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Hadeda Ibis
(Bostrychia hagedash)

Hadeda Ibis

General description

The hadeda is a large, grey-to-partly brown species of ibis with a narrow, white, roughly horizontal stripe across its cheeks.

The plumage over the wings has an iridescent purple sheen.

Juveniles lack the purple sheen and are duller than the adults.

The bird has a large grey-to-black bill with a red stripe on the upper mandible. The legs are blackish and the upper surfaces of the toes are a similar red.

Wings are powerful and broad, enabling quick take-offs and easy manoeuvring through dense tree cover.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Bostrychia hagedash

Common names:
Hadeda Ibis

Roberts VII english name:
Hadeda Ibis

Roberts VII scientific name:
Bostrychia hagedash

Ibises and Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

Further information



Hadedas feed predominantly on earthworms, using their long scimitar-like bill to probe soft soil. It also eats larger insects, such as the Parktown prawn (a species of king cricket Libanasidus vittatus), as well as spiders and small lizards. These birds also favour snails and will feed in garden beds around residential homes.

They are particularly welcomed on bowling and golf greens because they are assiduous in extracting larvae of moths and beetles that feed on the roots of the grass. It is not clear how they detect these, but it seems likely that they can hear their chewing and digging.

It has an extremely loud and distinctive "haa-haa-haa-de-dah" call—hence the name. The call is often heard when the birds are flying or are startled, or when the birds communicate socially, for example early in the morning in residential suburbs. While roosting they produce a single loud "haaaa". When foraging, their contact call is a low growl similar to that made by a young puppy.

Natural distribution:
This bird occurs in Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Somalia, Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.

The hadeda ibis is found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa in open grasslands, savanna and wetlands, as well as urban parks, school fields, green corridors and large gardens.

Similar to the Glossy Ibis, but the hadeda is larger, heavier billed and has an overall paler plumage than the Glossy Ibis.

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