(hooʹpoe) [Heb., du·khi·phathʹ].
About the size of a slender pigeon, the hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a somewhat cinnamon-colored bird, distinctively marked with alternate broad bars of white and black along its wings and back. Its most conspicuous feature is a crest of plumes, each feather ending in a white border tipped with black, the crest running from the base of the long, slender curved bill all the way to the back of the bird’s head. Though colorfully and conspicuously dressed, the hoopoe is notably unclean in home and habits. Its diet of insects is obtained by probing with its sharp bill not only into the ground but also into dunghills and other filth. The nest gives off a disagreeable odor produced by secretions of the bird’s oil glands, and it also becomes foul smelling due to the bird’s failure to clean the nest of excrement. Thus, while not a bird of prey nor an eater of carrion, the hoopoe was included among the birds listed as unclean for food in the Mosaic Law.—Le 11:13, 19; De 14:12, 18.
Found throughout southern Asia and Africa and parts of Europe, the hoopoe migrates to Palestine about the first of March and remains until the approach of winter, when it heads southward to Egypt and other parts of northern Africa.
The identification of this bird with “the lapwing,” as in the King James Version (Le 11:19; De 14:18), is no longer followed by modern translations. The translators of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate understood it to be “the hoopoe” (eʹpops, LXX; upupa, Vg), and the Syriac and Arabic names for the hoopoe (Syriac, qaqupha; Arabic, hudhudu) also confirm this identification.
Some believe the Hebrew name for the hoopoe (du·khi·phathʹ) is intended to represent the peculiar, somewhat dovelike cry of the bird, as is clearly the case with its name in the other languages mentioned. Others would derive the name from the Hebrew verb meaning “pound” (compare Nu 11:8), noting the hoopoe’s practice of probing the ground for its food.
[Picture on page 1137]
Hoopoe, pretty bird with unclean habits