The hoopoe is a colorful bird notable for its distinctive crown of feathers. The hoopoe is a colorful bird notable for its distinctive crown of feathers. The hoopoe is a colorful bird notable for its distinctive crown of feathers. (Photo: Kasikun_Kamol / Shutterstock)

The hoopoe bird is fighting off some incredibly nosy neighbors

Invasive parakeets – yes, invasive parakeets! – are causing trouble at hoopoe nests.

The hoopoe bird doesn't have it easy. It's got to contend with a comical look and a funny-sounding name. But now it has another foe to fend off: invasive parakeets.

Chosen as the national bird of Israel in 2008 (besting the bulbul, warbler and finch for the honor), the beloved bird with the spectacular crown feathers is fighting for its survival. Ring-necked parakeets are jostling for space in Israel's trees, literally knocking hoopoes out of their nests.

These are the findings from a remarkable 10-year study conducted by researchers from Israel, Sweden, Poland and Germany.

Hoopoe chicks in nestYoung hoopoe chicks peek their heads out of their tree nest to get a snack from their parent. (Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock)

As if that wasn't enough, the hoopoes are fighting off another problem as well. Twenty years after being introduced to Israel’s zoos, the invasive myna bird now nests across the country, ousting native species like the hoopoe along the way.

But the hoopoes, whose impressive wings resemble that of the butterfly, are resilient creatures.

A recent documentary showed how the small bird has made a comeback in Europe and how it's dealing with snakes, foxes and green lizards. The film focused on the efforts of Manfred Eckenfellner, known across the world as the 'Hoopoe-Whisperer,' who has personally helped the hoopoe population thrive.

Hoopoe chicks, meanwhile, have developed an incredibly specific anti-predator system of their own – they sneak up on attacking animals and poop on them. Yes, you read that correctly. The video below shows it in action (you may want to put down your coffee cup while you watch):

As for the latest study about the parakeets, the researchers note a possible upside to their invasive techniques: "The parakeet can also excavate its own cavities, providing other birds with breeding places, so the final impact on native avifauna is questionable," they wrote.


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Related Topics: Animals