Promperops purpureus J. F. Miller, 1784, Cape Province, South Africa. Eleven subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Red-billed woodhoopoe; French: Irrisor moqueur; German: Baumhopf; Spanish: Abubilla-arbуrea Verde.
13–15 in (32–37 cm), 2–3.5 oz (54–99 g). Largest, most widespread woodhoopoe. Black plumage with variable green and purple gloss, white spots on flight feathers and tip of tail, red bill and feet (bill black in some populations), male bill length and mass 18–20% more than female.
Sub-Saharan Africa. P. p. guineensis: northern Senegal, Mail, eastern to northern Ghana; P. p. senegalensis: southern Senegal east to Ghana; P. p. niloticus: northeast Zaire, Sudan to western Ethiopia; P. p. abyssinicus: northern Ethiopia and Eritrea; P. p. neglectus: central Ethiopia; P. p. somaliensis: southeast Ethiopia, Somalia to northeast Kenya; P. p. marwitzi: southern Somalia, Kenya, eastern Uganda, south to eastern South Africa; P. p. granti: southern Ethiopia and Kenya; P. p. damarensis: southwest Angola and northwest Namibia; P. p. angolensis: eastern Angola and eastern Namibia, east to western Zambia and western Zimbabwe; P. p. purpureus: southeastern South Africa.
Open woodland, savanna, and dry mixed scrub with a few larger trees, to over 6,560 ft (2,000 m) above sea level.
Group-living, advertise territory with loud cackling calls and bowing displays. Often allopreen and exchange food in social
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Probe cracks or bark on tree trunks and limbs for invertebrate food such as caterpillars, beetle larvae, and spiders. Sometimes dig in animal dung on the ground, hawk insects in flight, or pirate food from nestlings of other species.
Breed cooperatively, alpha pair assisted by adult and juvenile helpers. Nest in tree hole, or rarely in ground or building, usually during late summer wet season. Lay two to five eggs, incubation 17–18 days, nestling period about 30 days, female and chicks fed by group. Sometimes parasitized by greater honeyguide (Indicator indicator).
Not threatened. Widespread and common throughout its range, including in a number of large national parks.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
None known, but often found in gardens and parks.
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