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The Hoopoe is highly distinctive, with a long, thin tapering bill that is black with a fawn base. The strengthened musculature of the head allows the bill to be opened when probing inside the soil. The Hoopoe has broad and rounded wings capable of strong flight.
The Hoopoe has a characteristic undulating flight, which is like that of a giant butterfly, caused by the wings half closing at the end of each beat or short sequence of beats.
The call is a soft, low and sustained hoo-poo or hoo-poo-poo, which may give rise to its English and scientific names.
Sexes are similar in appearance, but female is a slightly duller rufous and males are slightly greyer on the face and breast.
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