(Upupa Epops, Linn.—Le Huppe ou Puput, Buff.)
LENGTH twelve inches; breadth nineteen. The bill is about two inches long, black, slender, and somewhat curved; eyes hazel; the tongue very short and triangular; the head is ornamented with a crest, consisting of a double row of feathers, of a pale orange yellow, tipped with black, the highest about two inches in length; the neck is pale reddish brown; breast and belly white, and in young birds marked with various dusky lines pointing downwards; the back, scapulars and wings are crossed with broad bars of black and white; the lesser coverts of the wings light brown; rump white; the tail consists of ten feathers, each marked with white, and when closed, assumes the form of a crescent, the horns pointing downwards: the legs are short and black.
This is the only species of its kind found in this kingdom; and it is not very common with us, being seen only at uncertain periods. The foregoing representation was taken from a very fine one, shot near Bedlington, and sent for this work, by the Rev. Henry Cotes. In its stomach were found the claws and other indigestible parts of insects of the beetle tribe: it was alive sometime after being shot, and walked about, erecting its tail and crest in a very pleasing manner. The sexes differ little in appearance; they moult once a year. The female is said to have two or three broods in the year; she makes no nest, but lays her eggs, generally about four or five in number, in the hollow of a tree, and sometimes in a hole of a wall, or even on the ground. Buffon says, that he has sometimes found a soft lining of moss, wool, or feathers, in the nests of these birds, and supposes that, in this case, they may have used the deserted nest of some other bird. Its food consists chiefly of insects, with the remains of which its nest is sometimes so filled as to become extremely offensive. It is a solitary bird, two of them being seldom seen together: in Egypt, where they are very common, they are seen only in small flocks. Its crest usually falls behind on its neck, except when it is surprised or irritated; it then stands erect; and its tall also, as well as its crest, is generally at the same time erected, and spread like a fan.
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