8 in the family now for Taiping hoopoes

TAIPING: The rare hoopoes “couple” who landed in the lake gardens here in April while on their migratory trail are now a happy family of eight after nesting twice, which zoo authorities say is a rare phenomenon.

The birds, also known as hudhud in Arabic, first bred three chicks after landing here on April 5 and it had been expected that they would leave after the fledglings were ready to fly. However, surprisingly, they nested again.

According to Taiping Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus, the three chicks which fledged about two weeks ago now have made it a family of eight.

“Our staff are monitoring them and have noticed that they are flying around the lake gardens as if it is their natural habitat. It is indeed rare for the ‘parent’ hoopoes to hang around once nesting is over during their migration,” he told FMT.

One of the three chicks which fledged about two weeks ago. (Taiping Zoo pic)

Lazarus said Taiping, being on the migratory trail of birds from the countries experiencing winter, sees different kinds of species each year but all of them leave by June or July at the latest.

The three latest hoopoe additions to the Taiping Lake Gardens. (Taiping Zoo pic)

“But for these really rare birds to nest twice in the same tree and still hang around with their fledglings here is not only rare but also speaks volumes of the environment in the lake gardens,” he said.

Asked if he expects them to leave eventually, he said it was hard to say as the climate patterns have changed globally, adding that it would be great if the birds decide to make this place their home.

“Besides the conducive environment, they would have chosen this place probably because of the peaceful location and the abundance of food.

“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,” he said.

The first batch of chicks in their nest at the lake gardens. (Taiping Zoo pic)

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, and is listed in the Old Testament as unclean and forbidden food for Jews.

By : K. Parkaran – FMT

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