Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

tags: , , , , ,

[Mystery bird] Green Wood-Hoopoe, formerly known as the Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Phoeniculus purpureus, photographed in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, 18 January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D300, 600 mm VR lens with 1.4 extender ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/250 sec.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

This mystery bird species has a remarkable breeding strategy, can you tell me what it is?

The Green Wood Hoopoe is an example of a “helping species.” They live in groups of up to a dozen or so but only one pair per group breeds. When the pale blue eggs hatch, the breeding female and the nestlings are fed by the rest of the group, even after they have fledged and left the nest hole.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 Adrian
    June 27, 2010

    A fascinating group of birds indeed. I think their habits are mirrored by the Scrub-Jays which featured recently.

  2. #2 Cuttlefish
    June 27, 2010

    Green Wood Hoopoe (or Red-billed Woodhoopoe). Love the gorgeous black & white undertail.

    They do not reproduce at all, but continue their family lines through adoption of unrelated species, with extensive plastic surgery and a strong belief in Lysenkoism and heritability of acquired traits.

    Ok, maybe not.

    They sorta nest communally–one breeding pair, lots of helpers.

New comments have been disabled.