Hoopoes and worms in the fridge

In May we discovered a Hoopoe nest site, just at the right time for us to set up a hide for our bird photographer guests.

A photo of one of “our” Hoopoes by Eric McCabe

Lovely, striking birds, which performed wonderfully for the photographers, perching on a branch with fat grubs in their bills before entering a hole in a stone wall where their nest was located. The perch was also much in demand by a local Corn Bunting and a singing Thekla Lark.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops. from the Hoopoe hide.

Hoopoe from the Hoopoe hide. Photo by Jordi Bas. 

After a few weeks on a recce visit it seemed to me that the Hoopoes had left the nest. But surely the young ones would be somewhere in the vicinity for a while yet? I had to check that idea, so I decided to get hold of some worms to tempt them back to the hide.


A day or so later I tried on the offchance at our local Decathlon store. I was amazed! In the fishing section they had a fridge with several types of worms or maggots that looked ideal for the purpose! Happy with my purchase I duly transfered them to our own fridge and waited for the right moment to act…

Hoopoe, Upupa epops, from the Montagu’s Harrier hide.

Hoopoe, but from the wrong hide (the Montagu’s Harrier hide). 

A couple of days later I was back at the Hoopoe scene, eager to see how effective the “worm ploy” would be. I placed the two classes of worms in strategic, visible places and waited. And waited…nothing. The Hoopoes had definitely moved on. And I still had two half-full tubs of worms. Some of them were left out for the Rollers, the rest went back into the family fridge.

And what did I see just as I was leaving the drylands? A family group of no fewer than 6 Hoopoes flying together over a small patch of pine trees. OUR Hoopoes, for sure, ungrateful lot!

I have to remember to take the rest of the worms out of the fridge and offer them to a local bird or two – there’s a shriek every time Florinda opens one of the pots thinking it contains paté!

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