Hoopoes breed right across central and southern Eurasia, including Turkey, the Middle East and Arabia, as well as in some Atlantic islands, northwest Africa, the Nile valley and sub-Saharan Africa. Northern populations are migratory, wintering in the southern parts of the range. In Europe they previously bred in the northwest continental area but persecution and changing agricultural practices led to their mostly disappearing as a breeding species north of a line from northern France to northeast Germany. Small numbers of non-breeding over-shooting summer migrants are recorded in Britain every year - Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded them in 203 ten kilometre squares, mostly in south and east England but with a scattering of individuals as far north as the Shetland Islands. There have been occasional records of breeding, most recently in 1996 when a pair raised three young at a site in Montgomeryshire (Bird Atlas 2007-2011).
    In Wiltshire there were only sporadic records until the mid 20th century, but since 1948 between one and six individuals have been recorded in almost every year. There were three records of confirmed breeding in the 19th century and two in the 20th century, both at Wilsford cum Lake in 1948 and 1950. Breeding has been suspected at several sites more recently but the 1950 record remains the lastest definite nesting record.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
“Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
“Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.