Cover photo: BirdPix 101445 – Neels Jackson
The Hadada Ibis gets its name from its loud three to four note call uttered in flight, especially in the mornings and evenings when they fly out or return to their roost trees. The calls of Hadada Ibises are considered a sign of approaching rains in parts of Lesotho.
It is a large, grey-to-partly brown bird. Males and females are alike in plumage. It has a narrow, white, roughly horizontal stripe across its cheeks. This is sometimes called the “moustache” though it does not reach the mouth corners. The feathers on its wings have an iridescent green and purple sheen and it has a long, curved greyish-black bill with a patch of red, only prominent during breeding season, on the top part of its bill.
The Hadada Ibis generally prefers open grassland with well-wooded valleys and patches of dense woodland (to use as nesting sites). It also occurs in forest clearings, wetlands with short grass, irrigated croplands, sports fields, pastures, and lawns in urban areas.
The distribution range of the Hadada has increased in southern Africa by nearly two and a half times in the 20th century due to the introduction of trees in habitats that were once treeless and the expansion of urban areas (and therefore gardens and parks). Irrigation projects may also have helped in their expansion as they appear to need moist and soft soils in which to probe for food.
Hadadas occur across Africa south of the Sahel. In southern Africa, they are common northern Botswana, the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), northern and southern Zimbabwe, Mozambique and much of South Africa, excluding parts of the arid Karoo.
In South Africa the core of their range is in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, mainly in the areas with moist grassland habitats and easily accessible water sources. The map below displays the distribution data from the second Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2).
Hadada Ibises roost in groups in trees. They fly out in the mornings with loud calls and return in the evenings with regularity. They are monogamous, solitary nesters, and probably form a life-long pair bond.
They feed on insects, millipedes, earthworms, and other invertebrates, using their long scimitar-like bill to probe soft soil. Hadadas readily feed on snails and can clear garden beds around residential homes. A gardener’s best friend! They are particularly welcomed on golf greens because they are great at extracting moth and beetle larvae that feed on the roots of the grass and other vegetation.
A Hadada’s nest consists of a platform of sticks with a central bowl lined with grass, lichen, weeds, leaves and other plant debris. It is typically placed in the fork of a horizontal tree branch, or occasionally on other suitable structures such cliffs, dam walls, or even telephone poles.
It lays 1-5 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for about 25-28 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and they leave the nest at about 33-40 days old, becoming fully independent at roughly 60 days old.
Species Text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997
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Other common names: Hadeda (Afrikaans); Ing’ang’ane (Xhosa); iNkankane (Zulu); Ibis hagedash (French); Hagedasch-Ibis (German).
Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M and Karis D 2022. Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available Online at http://thebdi.org/2022/03/24/hadada-ibis-bostrychia-hagedash/