It was endemic to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. It is considered that it was much larger than its European and African relatives. In addition it was completely flightless. The incomplete skeleton which was found in 1975 by palaeontologist Storrs Olson consists of both coracoids and the left femur. The reasons for its extinction remained unknown, though, it is assumed that it became extinct soon after, if not immediately after, St. Helena was discovered and colonized in 1502, due to the introduction of predators such as black rats, and domestic cats, as well as habitat destruction.
As all known hoopoes are insectivores that feed primarily on large insects, the Giant Hoopoe may have been a predator of the St. Helena earwig, (Labidura herculeana), an insect which has not been seen alive since 1967.