Green Wood-Hoopoe

Phoeniculus purpureus

Green Wood-Hoopoe, Phoeniculus purpureus, photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed on a farm plot west of Eldoret, Kenya. December 31, 2013. The partially red bill suggests this may be an immature bird.

From Wikipedia The Green Wood Hoopoe is a large, up to 44 cm long, bird native to Africa. It is a member of the family Phoeniculidae, the wood hoopoes, and was formerly known as the Red-billed Wood Hoopoe. The Green Wood Hoopoe is a common resident breeder in the forests, woodlands and suburban gardens of most of sub-Saharan Africa. They are found in groups of up to a dozen or so birds with only one breeding pair. The breeding female lays two to four blue eggs in a natural tree hole or old barbet nest and incubates for about 18 days. Upon hatching, she and the nestlings are fed by the rest of the group, even after they have fledged and left the nest hole. The group are fearless in defence of the nestlings against intruders.

This abundant species is a metallic dark green, with a purple back and very long diamond-shaped purple tail. Distinctive white markings on the wings and white chevrons on the tail edges make it easily identifiable, as does its long thin curved red bill. Sexes are similar, but immatures have a black bill. The Green Wood Hoopoe is an insect-eating species. It feeds mainly on the ground, termite mounds, or on tree trunks, and will form flocks outside the breeding season. Its specialised claws enable it to easily cling to the underside of branches while closely inspecting the bark for insects. This conspicuous bird also advertises its presence with its loud Kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk call and other vocalisations.

Phoeniculidae -- Wood Hoopoe Family


  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Zimmerman et al.
  • Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, created 10 March 2014