Fun Facts to Know About the Hadada Ibis

The Hadada Ibis, also known as Bostrychia hagedash and Hadeda, is an ibis species commonly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. This animal is known for its distinctly loud, penetrating “haa-haa-haa-de-dah” call, hence its common onomatopoeic name. The Hadada Ibis came from the Threskiornithidae family, a group of 34 species of large wading birds, including the African Sacred Ibis, Black-headed Ibis, Red-naped Ibis, Northern Bald Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, and African Spoonbill.

This ibis species was first described in 1790 by John Latham, an English naturalist, physician, and author. He collected a specimen near “Outeniqualand” east in Mossel Bay. John Latham is recognized through his greatest contributions, such as “A General Synopsis of Birds” and “General History of Birds.”

In Johannesburg, South Africa, Hadada Ibises are either considered pests, oddities, and background noises. These large birds feed in private lawns and breeds in towering man-made trees that replaced indigenous grassland areas. Urban legends say that Hadada Ibises make its grating call because they are scared of flying.

Nevertheless, the population of Hadada Ibises remains stable despite threats such as habitat loss because they realized that they could take advantage of urban areas. Therefore, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized this species as Least Concern.

Its seven levels of scientific classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Pelecaniformes

Family: Threskiornithidae

Genus: Bostrychia

Species: B. hagedash

The physical characteristics of a Hadada Ibis

The Hadada Ibis is a large ibis species, measuring about 75 cm long. Male and female Hadada Ibises share similar plumage. An adult Hadada Ibis possesses a narrow, white horizontal stripe that runs across its cheeks, which is often referred to as “mustache” even though it doesn’t reach to corners of its mouth. The plumage over the wings is iridescent purple sheen created by optical microstructures in the feathers. It has a large greyish-black bill and blackish legs, but its basal half of the upper mandible turns red in color during the breeding season. Its powerful, broad wings allow the Hadada Ibis for quick take-offs and effortless maneuvering through bushy tree covers.

The distribution and habitat of Hadada Ibises

Hadada Ibises is a common species throughout southern African countries such as Sudan, Burundi, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gambia, Somalia, Kenya, Swaziland, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Unlike other ibis species that are highly dependent on water, Hadada Ibises do not depend much on water. Yet still, they favor living in areas along water sources such as rivers and streams. They can be found in wetlands, and they are learning to adapt to urban areas. They are commonly sighted in suburban lawns, sports field, and bushvelds.

Visit and see them in their natural habitat in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, Pet Masters Bird Park in Johannesburg, Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Pretoria, and Birds of Eden near Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route.

The behavior of a Hadada Ibis

Hadada Ibises roost in flocks on trees. In the morning, they produce loud calls. They have sensory pits around the tips of their bills, which enable them to locate feeding worms and insects. Since they can adapt to living in urban areas, many African cities have Hadada Ibises in their roads, roofs, and even in several bird-hits at airports in South Africa and Kenya.

Hadada Ibises form strong monogamous pairs that are believed to last throughout the year. The breeding season takes place after the winter rains, particularly from July to January. They build nests using twigs and other plant materials in a strong branch of a large tree. Both male and female Hadada Ibises will incubate the clutch made up of three to four eggs. After a 26-day incubation period, the chicks will be fed through regurgitation. Because the nests are situated atop tall trees, many young birds fall and die. Survivors fledge at around 33 days and are completely independent once they reach 40 days old.

The diet of a Hadada Ibis

This bird species feeds on insects, millipedes, and earthworms using their long bill to probe the soil. They also feed on larger organisms such as the Parktown prawn, spiders, lizards, and snails. They clean garden beds around suburban homes. These birds are welcomed in golf greens because they extract larvae of moths and beetles that feed on grassroots.

Hadeda Ibis