They eat invertebrates, animals without a backbone, mainly insects and arachnids, eight-legged animals that includes spiders, scorpions, and mites, and their larvae (LAR-vee), active immature insects; along with some fruits and small vertebrates, animals with a backbone. Probing into crevices, narrow openings, and cracks, or prying off bark on the trunks and limbs of trees are their means of locating prey. Strong feet allow wood-hoopoes to hunt at all angles, including hanging upside down, with the tail used as a brace. Larger species tend to search on larger branches; species with thicker, straighter bills dig and pry more often; and smaller species probe into the smallest holes on the smallest of twigs. Some species will also feed on the ground or catch flying insects in midair. Woodhoopoes do not drink water on a regular basis because they receive most of their needed moisture from their prey.

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