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Redbilled Woodhoopoe

Bird of the month is the Redbilled Woodhoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)


Photographs courtesy of Annette Raaff.

Colouring: Large, glossy blue and green bird with a long graduated, white-tipped tail and a long red curved bill and red feet. The immature is not as glossy as the adult and has a black bill.
Voice: The call is a high-pitched cackling, started by one and taken up by others to produce a cacophony of hysterical laughter; birds sway backwards and forwards while calling.
Habitat: Occurs in parties of three to eight in woodland and thornveld.
Distribution: Throughout Southern Africa, except extreme desert.
Habits: Fly from tree to tree in straggling procession, settling low down and working their way to the top before flying off to the next tree.

redbilled woodhoopoe "group photo"
Food: Insects (especially larvae, like cut-worms), earthworms, small snakes, frogs; sometimes hawks termites in flight.
Breeding season: Mainly August to October; may rear 2-3 broods per season.
Incubation and fledging: Incubation: 17 days. Nestling: 26-32 days; fed by both parents. Clutch: 2-6 pale blue or olive green eggs.

Gordon Lindsay Maclean: Roberts’ Birds of Southern Africa, Sixth Edition. 1993.
Kenneth Newman: Newman’s Birds by Colour. 2000.
Ian Sinclair: Southern African Bids (a photographic guide)