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A photo of a Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)
Green Wood Hoopoe

Green Wood Hoopoe

Phoeniculus purpureus

The green wood hoopoe, Phoeniculus purpureus, is a striking bird native to the African continent. It is a large species, reaching up to 44 cm in length, and is adorned with a lustrous metallic dark green plumage. The bird's back is a resplendent purple, and it boasts a remarkably long, diamond-shaped tail of the same hue. Its wings are marked with distinctive white patterns, and the tail edges are decorated with white chevrons, making it a sight to behold.

Identification Tips

Upon sighting, one can identify the green wood hoopoe by its long, thin, and curved red bill, which is a prominent feature against its dark plumage. Both sexes appear similar, though the immature birds can be distinguished by their black bills. The white markings on the wings and tail are key identifiers for this species.


The green wood hoopoe is a common resident of sub-Saharan Africa's forests, woodlands, and even suburban gardens, where it can be seen foraging and socializing in groups.


This bird has a wide range across sub-Saharan Africa, with its presence noted from Senegal to South Africa. It is divided into six recognized subspecies, each occupying different geographical regions within the continent.


The green wood hoopoe is known for its social nature, often found in flocks that can number up to a dozen individuals. Only one pair within these groups breeds, while the others assist in communal activities. Its behavior is characterized by its loud and distinctive kuk-uk-uk-uk-uk call, which can be heard echoing through its habitat.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the green wood hoopoe is quite notable, with its chattering calls serving as a form of communication among the flock members. These calls are an integral part of the bird's social interactions.


Exhibiting cooperative breeding behavior, the green wood hoopoe nests in natural tree holes or old barbet nests. The breeding female lays two to four blue eggs and incubates them for approximately 18 days. Remarkably, the entire group participates in feeding and defending the nestlings, a testament to their communal nature.

Similar Species

The green wood hoopoe can be confused with the black-billed wood hoopoe (Phoeniculus somaliensis) and the violet wood hoopoe (Phoeniculus damarensis), though it is sometimes considered conspecific with these species.

Diet and Feeding

An insectivorous bird, the green wood hoopoe primarily feeds on insects found on the ground, termite mounds, or tree trunks. Its specialized claws allow it to cling to branches with ease as it inspects bark for its prey.

Conservation Status

The green wood hoopoe is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, indicating that it is widespread and common within its extensive range.

Green Wood Hoopoe Sounds

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Green Wood Hoopoe Fun Facts

Did you know?
Green Wood Hoopoes form groups of up to a dozen during the breeding season, with only a single breeding pair. When chicks hatch all the birds in a group help to raise the young.

Green Wood Hoopoes on Birda


More Wood Hoopoes

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