Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Shakati Bush Facts. In this edition, we will be looking at the Green Wood-Hoopoe. The Green Wood-Hoopoe is a common sighting at Shakati Private Game reserve, and definitely livens up the Veld with its distinct call.

Look out for the Green Wood-Hoopoe close to the Chalets or close to the watering hole (you will usually hear them before you see them)

Green Wood Hoopoe (10)

About the Green Wood-Hoopoe

The Green Wood-Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus) is classified in Roberts Birds as number 452. The Green Wood-Hoopoe is vocally quite loud and is a large bird, up to 44 cm (17 in) long. They occur primarily in trees and is a near-passerine tropical bird native to Africa. It was formerly known as the red-billed wood hoopoe.

The Green Wood-Hoopoe is a common bird with a widespread distribution and is assessed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Green Wood Hoopoe (16)

Common Names

The Green Wood-Hoopoe was originally called the Red-billed Wood-Hoopoe, but was recently changed to Green Wood-Hoopoe as it is now known. The Green Wood-Hoopoe is as well-known as the Wood-Hoopoe, Senegal Wood-Hoopoe in other parts of the African continent.

The following list is the common names for the Green Wood-Hoopoe:

Gewone kakelaar [Afrikaans]; Rooibekkakelaar [Afrikaans]; Intlekibafazi [Xhosa]; iNhlekabafazi (in Swazi this name is applied to Arrow-marked babbler), uNukani [Zulu]; Musokoto (also applied to Scimitarbill) [Kwangali]; Haya (name also applied to Great spotted cuckoo) [Shona]; Yokoywana (also applied to Common scimitarbill) [Tsonga]; Foofoo [Tswana]; Groene kakelaar [Dutch]; Irrisor moqueur [French]; Steppenbaumhopf [German]; Zombeteiro-de-bico-vermelho [Portuguese]


How do I identify it?

Green Woodhoepoe (9)

The Green Wood-Hoopoe is easily identifiable with:

  • Colour: 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
  • Bill: long, thin, curved red bill
  • Male and Female: similar, but immatures have a black bill
  • Sound: loud Kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk call and other vocalisations
  • Size: Little bit bigger than a starling. The height is about 34 cms and its weight is about 83 gms
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Legs: Red


What does it eat?

Green Woodhoepoe (23)

The Green Wood-Hoopoe diet includes the following:

  • Invertebrates (beetles, moths and butterflies, termites, bugs, crickets and grasshoppers, lacewings, flies and antlions, wasps, bees and ants, dragonflies and damselflies)
  • Plant products (seeds, nectar, berries and fruit)
  • Vertebrates (reptiles, geckos, lizards and frogs)

The Green Wood-Hoopoe primarily prefers insects, and they are usually found searching for insects in the trees, or on termite mounds. Its specialised claws enable it to cling easily to the underside of branches while closely inspecting the bark for insects



The Green Wood-Hoopoe preferred habitats are: woodlands and grasslands and riverine areas, and will usually them in pairs or flocks and not as single birds. It is common in Southern, central and eastern Africa, and forages on trees, running up and down trunks and branches locating food, usually insects but also reptiles, amphibians and seeds.

Green Woodhoepoe (4)


The Green Wood-Hoopoe is a monogamous breeder (unless its mate dies). It usually lays two to four blue-green eggs in a natural tree hole or old barbet nest and incubates (female only) them for about 18 days. During the incubation stage the male and other birds in the group will bring the female food. When the chicks are hatched then they are fed by helpers, as well as the breeding male and stay in the nest for 28-30 days. After they leave the nest the juveniles are still fed for two to three months after hatching, becoming fully independent soon afterward.



There are few threats to the Green Wood Hoopoe, as it is a non-threatened species. But in the wild there are several threats which include:

  • Parasitized by the greater and Lesser Honeyguide
  • Field Fires
  • Chemicals
  • Snakes
  • Lizards



The Green Wood-Hoopoe is a fascinating bird which occurs commonly on Shakati Private Game Reserve. The biggest challenge is tough to photograph them as they do not sit still for a minute (highly active birds).

Have fun looking for them and photographing them at Shakati Private Game Reserve


See you Next time!





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