Rare hoopoes at it again at Taiping Lake Gardens

TAIPING: The rare hoopoe “couple” which nested at the Lake Gardens here while on their migratory journey have started nesting again, much to the surprise of zoo authorities.

The birds, also known as hudhud in Arabic, first bred three chicks after landing here on April 5 and were supposed to have flown off after the fledglings were ready to fly, but have decided to “extend” their stay here.

“It’s already rare to have hoopoes nesting here. This is the first documented case of hoopoes breeding in Malaysia,” Taiping Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus told FMT.

The mother bird feeding one of her chicks in the nest at the Lake Gardens in Taiping, Perak.

“To have fledged three chicks and to have them nest a second time is really something unexpected. We are very happy they have chosen Taiping to breed. Hope they or at least the young will remain here.”

He said they were nesting in the same tree just outside the zoo and were expected to finish hatching in a week or two.

“They would have chosen this place probably because of the peaceful location with abundance of food,” he said.

Dr Kevin Lazarus.

Lazarus said the birds might be here due to a change in migratory patterns which could be linked to global climate change.

“According to migratory pattern records, most birds do not reuse their old nests, no matter how clean they are. They typically build a new nest in a new location for each clutch.

“Building a new nest in a new location also means predators are less likely to find the nest site before the young birds fledge,” he said.

He said the zoo ensured that the birds were not troubled during the incubation period by cordoning off a huge area, adding that thousands had come to view this “Taiping special” over the last two months.

“We have put up barriers so the public or birdwatchers do not cause undue disturbance to these birds,” he said.

Previously, Taiping municipal council president Khairul Amir Mohamed said the hoopoes were special in Islam as the hudhud was mentioned in the Quran.

“It is mentioned as a creature which is honest, smart, disciplined and strong because it is capable of flying long distances and adept at detecting areas with water.

“In addition, there are no records of hoopoes nesting or breeding in Malaysia while on their migratory route. So their choice of Taiping to breed is indeed special to us,” he said.

The hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colourful bird that is found across Afro-Eurasia, and is notable for its distinctive crown of feathers.

Known as “Duchifat” in Hebrew, it was named by Israel as its national bird in 2008, as it is listed in the Old Testament as unclean and forbidden food for Jews.

By : K. Parkaran – FMT

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