Food of the Hoopoe

What the Bird Eats

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There was good reason for supposing that the evil odour of the Hoopoe's nest was caused by the food, as the Hoopoe is in the habit of raking about in very unsavoury places in search of insects. But it does not therefore follow that the insects which it finds are possessed of an evil smell. On the contrary, some of the worst-smelling insects - notably the lace-wing fly and many of the flower-haunting hemiptera - are invariably found upon the leaves of trees and the petals of flowers; while others which, like many of the scarab beetles, haunt the most repulsive substances, but are in themselves bright, and clean, and sweet.


Birdwatchers agree in stating that it delights to find its food among filth of the most abominable description, and this especially in its winter-quarters.

The Hoopoe eats mainly insects, although worms and grubs also form the Hoopoes' food.  Beetles of various kinds seem to be their favourite food, and when the beetles are reasonably large - say, for example, as large as the common cock-chafer and dor-beetle - the bird beats them into a soft mass before it attempts to eat them. Smaller beetles are swallowed without any ceremony. The various boring insects which make their home in decaying wood are favourite articles of diet with the Hoopoe, which digs them out of the soft wood with its long curved beak. Hoopoes can get so fat in autumn that they were deemed to be a delicacy in some of countries of Southern Europe in the 19th Century.  Some Arabian people have a great reverence for the bird, attributing to it marvellous medicinal and other qualities, and using its head in charms.
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