Hadeda Ibis

Bostrychia hagedash

One of South Africa’s best known, most common, and most widely occurring bird species, the Hadeda is a large ibis weighing up to 1.5kg. Few South Africans would not be familiar with their distinctive “ha-ha-ha-de-dah” call.

Hadedas are mostly sedentary, and some have been known to use the same roosts for many years. By day they forage in pairs or small groups along wooded streams and in suitable man-made habitats (like irrigated fields, garden lawns and golf courses) for their invertebrate staple diet (chiefly worms, snails and slugs, endearing them to gardeners), which they locate by probing in the soft earth and leafy detritus with their long, curved bills. Unlike many other ibis species, Hadedas nest in solitary pairs during or just after the rainy season. Three or four eggs are laid in nests usually used for many consecutive breeding seasons and constructed of sticks and twigs on a level tree branch (or similarly suitable man-made structure), often over water. Both adults take turns to incubate the eggs. Traditional healers use the ground-up bones of Hadedas to prepare a potion said to prevent love partners from leaving with someone else, a belief based in the Hadeda’s enduring monogamous associations.

The Hadeda has an expanding population distributed over most of Sub-Saharan Africa, and is considered of “Least Concern” by the IUCN. They are a common sight all over urban South Africa, which has aided their rapid range expansion, and in most nature reserves.

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29 thoughts on “Hadeda Ibis

  1. Nature on the Edge

    My Xhosa friend calls them the ‘crones that cackle’ – i think rather apt. Apparently they came over the Hottentot Hollands range into the Western Cape in the late 1980″s and they have made themselves at home in the urban space. Amazing how their numbers have increased.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I also find it astounding that, in an age where humans seem to be pushing nature further and further into tiny little corners, these rather large and conspicuous birds are bucking the trend!

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  2. colonialist

    Sister-in-law has a pair that come and tap their beaks on the glass doors for a handout. If the door is open they will even come inside with demanding looks.
    Amazing the colours that appear in certain light on that plumage. I have read that the eyes are adapted to show them up brilliantly, so that to another hadeda what is grey to us is seen as a rainbow.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Your sister-in-law must be a very kind-hearted soul for them to be so trusting of her. Here people seem to chase them away – probably finding there calls irritating – and therefore they’re rather skittish of people coming closer.

      Most interesting about their irridescent plumage and the way it appears to other hadedas!

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      1. colonialist

        S-I-l has befriended them over many years. They have no dogs and a most tolerant cat.
        Btw – if nesting above a long driveway, as we had them, they provide a wonderful early warning system of intruders at night!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Mens dink mens ken Hadedas ne, want mens sien hulle daagliks. Ek het net so baie oor hulle geleer, goed wat ek nie eers oor gewonder het nie, terwyl ek die artikel bymekaar gemaak het. Ek is baie bly om te weet dat dit vir iemand anders ook iets nuuts gewys het – baie dankie!

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