Why is a hoopoe called a hoopoe? Because of its sound! I love it when birds are named after their calls! Here you can listen to a hoopoe hooping. The woodhoopoes have crazy giggling calls while scimitarbills make nice whistles that are easy to imitate. Check it out…

Common Scimitarbill


Scimitarbills make a lovely sound: about 5-6 “sad” whistles at the same pitch: soup, soup, soup, soup, soup. Very different to the cackling noises of woodhoopoes! The harsher sound at the very end of the clip is a contact call – a special sound that birds make to stay in touch with their mates. You can hear a White-browed Scrub Robin and some Blue Waxbills in the background.

Green Woodhoopoe


What a crazy sound! A fast, hysterical giggling and chattering! Sometimes all the group members join up to call together. They get very excited and swing back and forth on branch while waving their tails. Sometimes they pick up pieces of bark and pass them to each other. You could perhaps mistake this for Arrow-marked Babblers. I recorded this in Moreleta Kloof Nature Reserve in Pretoria.

Violet Woodhoopoe


Violet Woodhoopoes sound more or less the same as Green Woodhoopoes. More crazy cackling and hysterical laughter. Like my kids watching funny Youtube videos. You’ll hear some single, sharp notes. They mean “I’m about to fly, follow me”. Then you hear their noisy wings as they flap onwards. This recording is of a family with a youngster exploring a dry riverbed at Brandberg in Namibia.

African Hoopoe


Hoopoes either say “hoop-hoop” or “hoop-hoop-hoop”. Even their scientific name is Epupa, after their sound. In the first part you’ll hear the 3-note variation. There’s also a Cape Canary singing away in the background.  In the second part the male was giving the 2-note variation, but when a female arrived they started chasing each other and making all sorts of different calls. I recorded this among some pine trees on a farm in the Eastern Cape.


Please be careful not to disturb birds too much if you’re playing their sounds.

All the sound and images on this page are copyright Faansie Peacock/Firefinch App.

To hear all the bird sounds, check out my Firefinch app on App Store/Google Play.