To believe is to see: Common Hoopoe

A mother and her daughter
in hot pursuit of
a runaway hearse,
with hairpins for memories –
picked right out of
grandma’s purse – tucked in-between
their thighs, poorly advised,
and drawn to darkness by
artificially inseminated fireflies.

Common Hoopoe

The birds featured in this post Common Hoopoes that I spotted at a shrub forest near the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary last year.

She was once a member of the Coraciiformes group that included kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers. Later on, people decided that it made more sense to place her along with the hornbills in the Bucerotiformes group.

But she looks nothing like the other birds in either of the groups. The Hoopoe is, as this website beautifully describes, “the size of a mistle thrush”. She wears a reddish brown coat, with a downward curving beak and streaks of white and black cajoling her fawn-coloured plumage.

Common Hoopoe, Vedanthangal

She wears a crown like no other princess or queen or the high priest in any country does. Her crest is too pretty to even be called as one. Maybe an Afro with an extraordinary disposition on life. It changes too, with the wind and her moods. Sometimes she combs it backwards slickly, like a wise guy in a gangster film. Other times – it shivers to the wind’s groove, appearing to have a mind of its own.

Surprisingly it isn’t the most adorable thing about her. It just makes it into the top three.

She sings her own name too. Her “oop-oop-oop” calls can so easily be mistaken as “hoopoe-pu”. I have often spotted her by following the sound of her name getting repeated in thin air.

Her wave-like flight patterns are also beautiful to look at against clear blue skies. Seeing her fly from one place to another is akin to gazing at a large butterfly.

There’s just so much to admire in her.

I have even had a few skin-grating adventures with her.

Sometimes I wonder how our skies would look without birds. Most times I don’t want to.

Why you have just have to believe if you want to really see


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