hoo'-po; -poo (dukhiphath; epops; Latin Upupa epops):
One of the peculiar and famous birds of Palestine, having a curved bill and beautiful plumage. It is about the size of a thrush. Its back is a rich cinnamon color, its head golden buff with a crest of feathers of gold, banded with white and tipped with black, that gradually lengthen as they cover the head until, when folded, they lie in lines of black and white, and, when erect, each feather shows its exquisite marking. Its wings and tail are black banded with white and buff. It nests in holes and hollow trees. All ornithologists agree that it is a "nasty, filthy bird" in its feeding and breeding habits. The nest, being paid no attention by the elders, soon becomes soiled and evil smelling. The bird is mentioned only in the lists of abomination (Leviticus 11:19; and Deuteronomy 14:18). One reason why Moses thought it unfit for food was on account of its habits. Quite as strong a one lay in the fact that it was one of the sacred birds of Egypt. There the belief was prevalent that it could detect water and indicate where to dig a well; that it could hear secrets and cure diseases. Its head was a part of the charms used by witches. The hoopoe was believed to have wonderful medicinal powers and was called the "Doctor Bird" by the arabs. Because it is almost the size of a hoopoe and somewhat suggestive of it in its golden plumage, the lapwing was used in the early translations of the Bible instead of hoopoe. But when it was remembered that the lapwing is a plover, its flesh and eggs especially dainty food, that it was eaten everywhere it was known, modern commentators rightly decided that the hoopoe was the bird intended by the Mosaic law. It must be put on record, however, that where no superstition attaches to the hoopoe and where its nesting habits are unknown and its feeding propensities little understood, as it passes in migration it is killed, eaten and considered delicious, especially by residents of Southern Europe.
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