Lifescapes Gallery

14 / Jul / 2010
The Scent of a Woman
Common Hoopoe, Coorg Photograph: Dr. Bishan Monnappa Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Scent of a Woman

If one were to go by the adverts we see on TV, women who use a certain brand of perfume can have it all: an alluringly fragrant presence, supreme self confidence, and unlimited male attention. In Coorg however, there’s one lady who makes her own fragrance and uses it quite liberally, both as a body spray and as a room freshener…only there’s no one around to appreciate it. Unlike most women, the Common Hoopoe is not into floral undertones or hints of citrus; she prefers perfumes with more body in them, like meat for instance, preferably with an undertone of rotten decay. If you’ve already reached for a barf bag, imagine what this smell does to potential predators and parasites. Keeps them at arm’s length, and keeps the nest safe. This, at the end of the day, is why the nesting mother’s glands produce this offensive smelling liquid which she smears onto her plumage. But while the female of the species deliberately makes herself unattractive to protect her brood, the male proves chivalry isn’t dead. He forages on the ground with his long sharp beak, and digs out larvae, pupae and small insect delicacies, and feeds his wife who can’t leave the nest. Such stories of virtuous behavior have been extolled in mythology, where the Hoopoe’s reputation is far more fragrant. Biblical stories have the Hoopoe as King Solomon’s storyteller and messenger, while Egyptian lore enshrines young Hoopoes’ tradition of feeding and caring for elder, infirm birds. All said and done, this bird reminds one of the (in)famous Durian fruit of Southeast Asia; a lot of goodness in a decidedly malodorous package, which probably explains the popular belief that the Common Hoopoe is best enjoyed when one suffers from a common cold.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 at 9:00 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Maria Carlin says:

    I think this is a real great blog post. Keep writing.

  2. Devora Backstrom says:

    Many thanks a whole lot for the publish sir 🙂

  3. Sandee Knoell says:

    LOL !! This got me laugthing for long Loling !

  4. shiyas says:

    Excellent .Fantastic Humour, and a fabulous picture and brilliant write up

  5. Dr. S. Sharma says:

    Outstanding storytelling and a fabulous picture. I didnt know there was so much behind this common bird.

  6. Vicky Robinson says:

    Another amazing shot – it might be a common bird but it is extremely beautiful and one of my favourites.

  7. manish says:

    superb shot…

  8. Jayant Dhanani. says:

    Cool.Excellent,Amazing and very informative article. keep it up.

  9. GANESH HR says:

    Dear Bishan sir, Namaskara! Photo is very nice. I really liked it. Hoopoe is my favorite bird… and i can actually make a Hoopoe call sir. Thank you for the nice photo… all the glory to God… would like to meet you when I come to Virajpet sir.

    Thanks and regards,
    Ganesh H.R – Naturalist

  10. Diwakaran Nair says:

    Fantastic Humour, and a wonderful image as usual. The common Hoopoe has been presented uncommonly well. Kudos Orange County!!!

  11. Bishan Monnappa says:

    Thanks all for your appreciation and encouragement.

  12. Mathew George says:

    Excellent picture. Added to it , a wonderful write up.

  13. Kannan .K.V. says:

    Good Work.

  14. Abbas Ahmed says:

    A very informative & interesting article. The photo of the bird is exquisite. Keep these emails & information on wildlife coming so that we come to understand beauty & nature better. thank you.

  15. Meena Waghray says:

    I liked the common cold bit…your write ups reflect a deep love for birds and refined humour.I wait for these posts.

  16. Anu Krishna says:

    Nice pic!! Very informative write up!!

  17. jagadish.bopaiah machimanda says:

    very good picture,” Hoopoe as king Solomon’ storyteller and messenger”. Good information.

  18. Devanand says:

    Ha ha ha…Mr R. Rajesh’s amazingly witty copy does a number on all those ‘Axe’ commercials. Talk of a real fowl smelling gal! 🙂 By the way, whoever came up with that derogatory term “bird brain” should do a rethink.

  19. Raja Vydhynathan says:

    I liked the story, Nice work.

  20. Saravanakumar Venkatachalam says:

    Excellent picture and brilliant write up!!

  21. sheetal says:

    Cool..really like your fortnight stories. Looking forward to it.

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