Friday, April 30, 2010
Hoopoes are distinctive birds and have made a cultural impact over much of their range. They were considered sacred in Ancient Egypt and symbols of virtue in Persia.Known in the local Arabic dialect as Hud Hud.
In the Bible, Leviticus 11:13-19, they were listed among the animals that are detestable and should not be eaten. They were thought of as thieves across much of Europe and harbingers of war in Scandinavia. Also, in Estonian tradition the Hoopoes are strongly connected with death and the underworld, their song is seen as a forebode of death for many a people or cattle. In Egypt they were “depicted on the walls of tombs and temples”; they achieved a similar standing in Minoan Crete.
Hoopoes also appear in the Quran in Surah Al-Naml 27:20-22 in the following context "And he [Solomon] sought among the birds and said: How is it that I see not the hoopoe, or is he among the absent? (20) I verily will punish him with hard punishment or I verily will slay him, or he verily shall bring me a plain excuse. (21) But he [the Hoopoe] was not long in coming, and he said: I have found out (a thing) that thou apprehendest not, and I come unto thee from Sheba with sure tidings." Hoopoes are listed in Deuteronomy (14:18) as un-Kosher.
The diet of the Hoopoe includes many species considered to be pests by humans; for example the pupae of the processionary moth, a damaging forest pest. For this reason the species is afforded protection under the law in many countries.
 It is the state-bird of Punjab province of India.
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, book 6, King Tereus of Thrace, married to Procne, rapes his wife's sister, Philomela and cuts out her tongue. In revenge, Procne kills their son Itys and serves him as a stew to his father. When Tereus sees the boy's head, which is served on a platter, he grabs a sword but just as he attempts to kill the sisters, they are turned into birds—Philomela into a nightingale and Procne into a swallow. Tereus himself is turned into an epops (6.674), translated as lapwing by Dryden and lappewincke (lappewinge) by John Gower in his Confessio Amantis, or hoopoe, in A.S. Kline's translation. The bird's crest indicates his royal status and his long, sharp beak is a symbol of his violent nature. English translators and poets probably had the Northern lapwing in mind, considering its crest.