Green wood hoopoe

Insect-eating, tree-dwelling, and an incredible co-partner. That said, there’s nothing uninteresting about this one

Charles J. Sharp

Formerly known as the Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, it is a striking example of the diverse and colorful avian life in sub-Saharan Africa’s woodlands. This species embodies the exotic allure of African birdlife with its vivid green plumage, curved red bill, and distinctive purple tail with a diamond-shaped pattern. While its appearance may seem almost too fantastical to be real, the Green Wood Hoopoe is indeed a native of this continent, where it graces the trees with its presence.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Green Wood Hoopoe’s lifestyle is its social behavior. These birds are highly gregarious, typically forming tight-knit groups consisting of several individuals, or even dozens, as they move through the forest canopy in search of food and suitable nesting sites. Despite their arboreal lifestyle, Green Wood Hoopoes are not exclusively tree-dwellers; they are known to descend to the ground to forage for prey, which primarily consists of insects and lizards. Their special claws are well-adapted for grasping onto branches, allowing them to easily navigate the dense foliage.

Within these social groups, a fascinating dynamic unfolds. Unlike many other bird species where hierarchical structures prevail, Green Wood Hoopoe packs are not governed by a single dominant individual. Instead, the dominant pair within the group assumes leadership roles, guiding the collective decisions and movements of the entire flock. This unique social structure sets them apart from many other bird species and speaks to the cooperative and egalitarian nature of their societies—truly a testament to their remarkable intelligence and adaptability.

Despite their seemingly idyllic existence, Green Wood Hoopoes face challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation threaten the forests and woodlands they call home, placing pressure on their populations. Additionally, like many other bird species, they are susceptible to the impacts of climate change, which may alter the availability of food and nesting sites.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2016
Benin
2016
Botswana
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Cameroon
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Eritrea
2016
Eswatini
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Gambia
2016
Ghana
2016
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Guinea
2016
Kenya
2016
Lesotho
2016
Malawi
2016
Mali
2016
Mauritania
2016
Mozambique
2016
Namibia
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Rwanda
2016
Senegal
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
Somalia
2016
Non-Breeding
South Africa
2016
South Sudan
2016
Sudan
2016
Tanzania
2016
Togo
2016
Uganda
2016
Zambia
2016
Zimbabwe
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No