As 2015 comes to a close and we look forward to another year, we tapped the stunning Hoopoe for some advice on surviving and thriving in 2016.
The Hoopoe (or duchifat in Hebrew), which was voted in as Israel’s national bird in 2008, is most likely named after the distinct oop-oop-oop sound it makes. It doesn’t get fancy with adjectives or descriptions of all the beautiful features it has (e.g. the bow-beaked, golden-black-tip-crested, etc.) …it’s just the Hoopoe, keepin’ it real. You can hear the Hoopoe’s eponymous song in this great video where it stands outside of someone’s window.
While the Hoopoe does take adequate time to bask in the sun to catch some rays, most of the time it is dig-dig-digging for food, as you can see here…
Its diet consists of insects, small reptiles, and occasionally seeds and berries. When it is foraging, it is in constant motion – like a woodpecker pecking the ground. In flight, it has a distinct undulating wing motion, often compared to the flight of a butterfly.
The Hoopoe uses its long curved beak for eating and to defend itself and its territory. It has special muscles in its jaw so it can actually open its beak while it is deep in the soil. It also uses its sharp beak as a weapon and has been known to render others blind!
With all the tension across the globe this year, the last thing we need to do is sit back and do nothing. The Hoopoe has a special defense mechanism: it can stink up a place faster than Adele sells out a tour. It has special glands that produce a nasty smelling secretion (we’re told it smells like rotting meat) which it applies all over its body…kind of an anti-cologne. Apparently, this stenchy solution also prevents parasites and acts as an antibacterial agent.
The Hoopoe is a beautiful creature in its own right…but when its crest is fanned open, it’s like a new world appears. And for this beauty, the Hoopoe turns to Marianne Williamson‘s wonderfully inspiring words:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
We wish a Happy New Year to you and yours (avian, human, and otherwise) and to our lovely planet!
The Myna is to Tel Aviv what the Pigeon is to New York City…at least in terms of pervasiveness.
Mynas are beautiful birds: bright yellow masks and beaks on a black body and black and white aflutter in flight.
They are crafty and quite invasive – using other birds’ nests, eating a wide variety of food, and mimicking the sounds around them (they are in the same family as the Starling) . They often work together in packs, like crows.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Myna is not a native species to Israel.
It was brought from India by the Zapari (a bird zoo in the Park Hayarkon). Some Myna escaped the zoo in the mid 90’s and they have been thriving ever since.
We landed in Israel just as Seinfeld, one of the kings of comedy, flew in for his first-ever standup performances in the country (3 extra shows added, all sold out). Israel is a migratory hub for many European and Asian birds. At least 500 million birds pass through its skies twice a year during the migration season!
While we didn’t catch Seinfeld’s show, we did get to see another king (a White-throated kingfisher, to be precise)…and many others. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!