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Solomon’s hoopoe … away from our reach

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The hoopoe bird has a place in the religious heritage that is not enjoyed by any other bird. It lived in Kuwait in the 1960s and at certain times (seasons) it migrated to other areas where food was available in plenty. Seeing it means much to me and I would have liked to possess one, but I am ignorant of its nature.

The tail and the wings of the hoopoe have black and white feathers, a light brown distinctive crest, and a long curved bill. It comes in different colors according to its home and is a friend of a peasant because it cleans the soil of worms and pests. Its existence is a sign of purity of the environment since it cleans the area from insects and this is one of the reasons why countries where humans live forbid hunting the bird and more so because its meat is inedible.

The hoopoes are found in abundance in the southern and central regions of Asia and Europe and are largely present in Africa. The birds do not live in one place but are always on the move in search of food, because the environment in Kuwait is already polluted and we can say most polluted than the entire Gulf region. The hoopoe has decided not to ‘land’ on our soil and it is not to be blamed for its negative attitude towards us.

The bird encyclopedia says that the bird lives in tree burrows or narrow rocky openings, even in old buildings. The incubation period for the eggs is between 12 to 15 days and the bird is present throughout the incubation period. It is said to have the ability to detect underground water locations.

In spite of its small body, it is characterized by its high flying speed and running and its ability to shoo away any creature which it deems dangerous to its nest, even wild animals. It protects the nest by spraying oily black spray from its tail gland which has a foul smell. Even the chicks have the same ability if they feel threatened.

The hoopoe feeds on the open prairie, preferably insects such as worms, soft larvae picked from dirt and narrow rock openings using its long beak, as well as small animals such as lizards. It may eat alone or with its females during the breeding period, especially during the spring and summer. It has the ability to evade the main pursuers such as hawks, falcons, owls and others by flying fast or through camouflage ground and hiding in the sand. It is one of the most cooperative and loving especially towards similar offspring.

In the quest for this beautiful bird, at the beginning of my adolescence, I carried my gun one day and went to look for it in the agricultural area near the site of the old US Embassy off the coast. My research did not last long, and I found a hoopoe standing among tomato plants.

When I got close enough, I pointed my gun at its legs, or so I thought. Its little body and feathers flew into the air and turned the bird into a small charred piece. I was sad and regretted doing it. It was the first and the last time I used my gun for hunting because the experience was sour.

email: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

By Ahmad Al-Sarraf




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