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This bird is known as ‘duchifat' in Hebrew and has a reputation for both its beauty… and its skunk-like stench.

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Hoopoes are colourful birds found across Africa, Asia, and Europe, notable for their distinctive "crown" of feathers. (Photo: Hoopoe on grass, Anat Cohen)

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You don’t have to be a birdwatching expert to notice the Eurasian Hoopoe right away.

With its tiger-stripe pattern, resembling a mythic Phoenix or legendary bird Pokémon, it simply cannot be mistaken for anything else. It is also Israel’s national bird and was known to the culture even in biblical times.

It can be seen in forested areas or parks/gardens and other urban locations with trees. Watching flying hoopoes in migration buzz around resembling the wing fluttering of butterflies or hummingbirds is a welcoming sight indeed. 

This bird is known as ‘duchifat’ in Hebrew and has a reputation for both its beauty… and its skunk-like stench.

Now, on to the 5 fun facts:

1. It was chosen to be Israel’s national bird in 2008 it was chosen by 155 000 voters, beating out over 50 choices including the red falcon, goldfinch and barn owl. Other choices included the Palestine sunbird (whose name might have affected votes) and the vulture (which probably comes off as a more grim omen).

2. It is a true stinker from birth- like a skunk. For starters, it paints its eggs with bacteria – something no other known bird does. After laying a clutch of 7-12 eggs that start out as cerulean blue, the female ‘paints’ them with her beak in a bacteria cocktail that she produces, so the eggs eventually turn brown. It is believed that such a mechanism protects the eggs from infections. Besides, it lets litter and feces accumulate in the nest, which definitely does not smell attractive to any intruders. And even the babies can strategically aim and ‘shoot’ faeces at predators to deter them. A born stinker indeed!

3. The Hoopoe is found all over the Old World, from Europe, the Middle East to Asia. Some have even been spotted in Alaska and the Himalayas, the latter at such high altitudes. To most of us, they all look the same. However, experts can tell apart the nine (or ten) different subspecies. The African and Madagascar hoopoes are distant relatives. The St. Helena hoopoe is probably an extinct cousin. Some believe that the St. Helena Hoopoe was flightless, akin to how the dodo in New Zealand was a flightless relative of flying pigeons. And that is how birds on remote islands evolve — due to lack of predators.

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4. The Bible states that the Hoopoe is not kosher. The Quran also mentions this bird when it interacts with King Solomon and commends this bird for its abilities of observation. In addition, this bird is commonly referenced to across world mythologies – it is also mentioned in Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Chinese texts, especially noted is the Hoopoe in Chinese poetry inscribed over bamboo. The Vikings believed that it was a harbinger of war. So, this bird has featured in many cultures thanks to its unique looks and behavior.

5. The Hoopoe is named after it’s tri-syllabic mating call it’s mating call sounds like an ‘oop-oop-oop’. Such a name is in linguistic terms, an onomatopoeia (named after a sound – like the words roar, purr, meow etc.).

The top speed of a common hoopoe bird is 24.9 mph (40 kmph) and they fly close to the ground. (Photo: Niki Shopov/Dreamstime)

Fortunately, there’s no current concern for the future of the bird being threatened, which is amazing  across its wide global range. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the Hoopoe’s conservation status as ‘Least concern’.

Thanks to a combination of its amazing adaptability, defensive ability and skills, this bird has proven to be a true survivor, much like the nation it represents.

Avi Kumar is a historian of Sri Lankan descent who lives in New York.

He has a unique spin on current affairs.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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