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.