Israeli Government Press Office via AFP-Getty Images
Israeli President Shimon Peres announces Thursday that the colorful Hoopoe bird is officially Israel's national bird after a competition in which 155,000 Israelis cast votes. news services
updated 5/29/2008 3:30:41 PM ET 2008-05-29T19:30:41

It may not be kosher, but the Hoopoe was chosen Thursday as Israel's national bird.

The Hoopoe, or "Duchifat" in Hebrew, is listed in the Old Testament as unclean and forbidden food for Jews.

President Shimon Peres declared the pink, black and white-crested bird the winner of a public vote timed to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary this month. Environmental groups launched the campaign to draw attention to endangered birds and their habitat.

Some of the 10 nominated birds created controversy. The Griffin Vulture was deemed too violent, and some Israelis had misgivings about making the Palestinian Sunbird the symbol of Israel.

Ophir Lotan  /  Israeli Presidency via AP
A Hoopoe feeds its young.
The hoopoe is identified by its long beak and pink and black crest. Ornithologists describe it as a beautiful, monogamous bird that takes good care of its children and uses creative tactics to defend itself.

But the Book of Leviticus groups the Hoopoe with birds such as the eagle, vulture and pelican that are "abhorrent, not to be eaten."

Israel is a main crossroads for birds migrating between Europe and Africa. Some 155,000 Israelis cast ballots in the national bird vote.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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