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Hunters help spot first-ever Hoopoe breedings recorded in Malta

Two pairs breed in separate locations

Hoopoes like to use rubble walls as perches. Photo: Bernard Farrugia

Hoopoes like to use rubble walls as perches. Photo: Bernard Farrugia

Two pairs of Hoopoes have bred in Malta, with each pair raising three young in the first-ever record of the species breeding in the Maltese islands.

While the birds have been spotted previously while showing signs of breeding behaviour, this has never been confirmed until now.

Hoopoes show up in considerable numbers during spring and are among the first birds to migrate.

The first pair to fledge was in Gozo, where they bred in a cliff crevice by San Blas.
The young and their parents are now flying in the Ramla and Nadur areas.

A second pair fledged in the south of Malta a few days later. They bred on private farmland.

Members of St Hubert’s Hunters group (KSU) played a key role in spotting the fledging birds and monitoring them, the group said in a statement.

The hoopoes in Gozo were first spotted by KSU member Jeffrey Vella, who noticed the parents carrying food in their bills before vanishing beneath the cliff edge.

They were then monitored by ornithologist Natalino Fenech and KSU members and photographers Marcus Camilleri and Peter Paul Azzopardi.

Birds in the south of Malta were first spotted by hunters and farmers who saw the birds fly back and forth with food in their bills. KSU members Mr Camilleri and Bernard Farrugia kept watch over ensuing days.

Hoopoe dusting. Birds often bathe in dust as this is part of the process of keeping their feathers ship shape. Photo: Natalino FenechHoopoe dusting. Birds often bathe in dust as this is part of the process of keeping their feathers ship shape. Photo: Natalino Fenech

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