Meet the Hoopoe

This colorful fellow was recently voted Israel’s national bird.

A hoopoe

A hoopoe

According to Wikpedia, his flying pattern is like a butterfly’s. I’d like to see that.

In the Qur’an, the hoopoe draws King Solomon’s attention to the existence of the kingdom of Sheba, where a much-loved and powerful queen* rules a wealthy kingdom. Alas, she and her subjects don’t worship quite properly, so Solomon must come to their rescue.

Much to my annoyance, hoopoe is pronounced “hoo-poo” instead of “hoo-po,” despite the way it’s spelled. Stupid English orthography.

The Arabic is هدهد. Pronounced “hud-hud.”

I hoped to find a video of a hoopoe in flight, but no luck. However, here’s a photo of a hoopoe with its crest erect.

hoopoe crest up

hoopoe crest up

*Bilqis, in Arab tradition. And the kingdom of Sheba was in Yemen.



Filed under animals, arab, arabian, arabic, arabist, language, names

7 responses to “Meet the Hoopoe

  1. You would think it would be Hoo-po. Weird.

    That is a beautiful bird, I love birds so much and used to keep a couple as pets. They are so fun to watch and be with.

  2. I see that you love animals 🙂 Ifyou want add to your blog a free daily funny animal picture click on my name.

  3. Mantiq al-Tayr

    The Quranic story you mention helped inspire Farid al-Din Attar to write a beautiful poem about the search for truth led by the hoopoe bird. Seeking the just ruler, a metaphor for God and, as we later learn, for themselves, the hoopoe says he will lead his feathered colleagues to him. He notes at the start of the journey that “He is close to us, but we are far from him.”

    How true indeed.

  4. nabeel

    can you have a hoopoe as a pet? and if yes please where could you buy one from. thanking nabeel.

  5. Hi Nabeel, sorry I didn’t see your post earlier. I don’t know if you can have a hoopoe as a pet, but I doubt it. Wikipedia mentions they have a gland that secretes a foul odor like rotting meat, and that would probably make them a bad pet.

  6. -MA-

    Great bird, mashaAllah.

  7. anil

    I was lucky enough to spend a few months near a nest of hoopoes when i was in the army. they are extremely timid, you should be super quiet when you spot one. as soon as it sees you, it’s gone. they are extremely beautiful and yes they do look like giant butterflies when they’re in flight. most of the time their crest is not puffed up. i would see them usually very early in the morning. they have a very distinctive call.

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