Israel names biblically banned Hoopoe national bird

JERUSALEM Thu May 29, 2008 11:22am EDT

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - 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 competition timed to coincide with Israel's 60th anniversary. It beat out rivals such as the Yellow-vented Bulbul and the Palestine Sunbird.

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.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Julian Rake and Ibon Villelabeitia)

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