Found throughout the Old World, hoopoes frequent warm, dry areas, which are at least partially open. The northernmost species, which reach the English Channel and the Baltic Sea, are migratory in winter. The nest is built in a tree cavity or a rock crevice, sometimes lined with debris, or sometimes bare. The female lays and incubates from four to six pale blue to olive colored eggs per clutch and is fed during incubation by her mate. Both sexes care for the naked, helpless young.

In addition to its beautiful plumage, the hoopoe is also noted for its filthy, malodorous nest. The bad odor comes from a combination of putrefying excrement, which the bird does not trouble to remove, and from defensive musty-smelling secretions released from the preen gland of the female when she is disturbed.

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