Common Hoopoe Upupa epops


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The overall population is estimated at 5,000,000-10,000,000 individuals (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). The European population is estimated at 1,300,000-2,760,000 pairs, which equates to 2,600,000-5,530,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
The species is declining throughout its range as a result of habitat destruction and over-hunting (del Hoyo et al. 2001). The European population trend between 1982 and 2013 is uncertain (EBCC 2015).


This species occupies open country such as pastures, parkland, orchards, sand-heathland, olive groves and vineyards as well as steppe and broken ground in Asia and dry wooded savanna in Africa. It requires the presence of features offering perches, shade, nest-sites and accessible food. It is frequently found around villages and in traditionally farmed areas (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). The species is monogamous, solitary and a territorial breeder, although extra-pair paternity has been found in southeast Spain. It nests in natural holes in stumps, trees, walls, old buildings, cliffs, among boulders, in abandoned vehicles, drainpipes, wells, roof spaces and nest boxes and may use the same site for several seasons (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). The nest may be unlined or lined with moss, grass, leaves or pine needles (Snow and Perrins 1998) and is normally relatively close to the ground but occasionally found over 40 m (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). Typically lays seven to eight eggs. It feeds almost entirely on animal matter, primarily large insects and their larvae and pupae (Snow and Perrins 1998). Northern populations are fully migratory while others are only partially migratory or sedentary.


The species is hunted in the Mediterranean region, Kuwait and in parts of south-east Asia (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). Hunting and disturbance in the northern Malay Peninsula may have resulted in recent declines (Krištín and Kirwan 2015). Food quality and accessibility has been shown to affect reproductive success (Martin-Vivaldi et al. 1999, Fournier and Arlettaz 2001) as has the availability of suitable nesting cavities (Arlettaz et al. 2000) as a result of habitat changes after agricultural intensification (Bauer and Berthold 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are currently no known conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research suggests that large areas of suitable breeding habitat within Europe should be maintained to allow functional and sustainable populations (Bötsch et al. 2012) therefore landscape scale management needs to be employed to maintain suitable foraging and breeding habitats for the species. Controls on hunting need to be introduced and enforced.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Ashpole, J, Butchart, S. & Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Upupa epops. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.