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Apr 25 2014

Hoopoe: The National Bird of Israel… in Greece

During a recent trip to Xanthi, I was fortunate to have the chance to explore some of the beautiful Rodopi Mountain Range National Park.  The diverse terrain provides habitat for a range of fauna, which includes numerous interesting birds, like this one.


I have to say, I’m not a particularly good birdwatcher, but the mountain guide I was with is excellent at spotting birds.  Even though he pointed them out and I could hear them,, I couldn’t always see them.  This outing made it perfectly clear that my observation skills are lacking somewhat.  Nonetheless, it was great being out with someone who can point them out to me and tell me what they are because my knowledge of birds is severely limited.

Today’s Foto Friday is a bird I did spot when the mountain guide, Ilias, pointed it out.  It was difficult to get a good photograph of it because it blends in well to its surroundings and it was so high up.  Thankfully, I have a good zoom on my camera.  I zoomed in to the max to get this shot and I’m really pleased with it.

The bird, in case you’re wondering what type it is, as I was, is a Hoopoe (Upupa epops).  It’s a shame the feathers on its head are down because it looks as if the bird has a mohican when the feathers are up.  You can find this bird in Europe, Asia, and North Africa.  Because the Hoopoe eats what we consider pests, it is a protected species in many countries.

Considering I had never seen nor heard of this type of bird before, it’s pretty popular and can be traced back to ancient times.  In Ancient Egypt and Minoan Crete, they were considered sacred and were drawn on walls and tombs.   In Islamic literature, a Hoopoe saved Moses and the children of Israel.  In Persia, Hoopoes were seen as a symbol of virtue and the king of the birds in the Greek comedy, The Birds, is a Hoopoe.  Then, in 2009, it was chosen as the national bird of Israel.  These birds haven’t always been considered in such a positive light because, apparently, in the Bible Hoopoes and other animals are considered detestable and should not be eaten.  I have to say I’m glad about that, but that’s only because I’m vegetarian. 🙂


I can’t pinpoint the exact location of where I was when I saw this bird, but you can see where the Rodopi mountains are.

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Have you been to the Rodopi mountains?  What birds did you see?


I have Ilias, my mountain guide from Riverland, to thank for helping me to spot this bird, so I could take a photo of it.  Without him, there is no way I would have seen it or, if I had, I wouldn’t have known what it was.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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  1. Discovering Xanthi: Nine Things to See and Do - Independent Travel Help

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