Known as the “La-di-da” in the better gardens and the Hadeda on the sports field, this is not a bird that you will find on any bird lovers bucket list but it is one that you will probably wake you up at one time or another when you stay at our luxury bush lodge.
The Hadeda Ibis is found throughout the Kruger National Park and Balule, in fact, they can be found in most parts of Africa. Before you curse them, read these interesting facts about this interesting birds:
- Although it is not on the endangered species list, their species is being threatened by extended droughts which reduce their availability of food because the damp soil gets too hard to break through for worms.
- The Hadeda Ibis forage for food by probing the ground with their beaks. Their diet consists mostly of insects, especially flies, earthworms, weevils, larvae, millipedes, snails, small lizards and have even on occasion been seen scavenging on carrion.
- Hadedas are social birds and can be found in pairs or small groups of 5 to 30 birds.
- Although Hadedas are sedentary, during drought periods they are known to move to an area where there is food.
- At night they roost in groups of up to 100 birds which can be a very noisy affair. They are found mostly close to streams, rivers or any moist area. Manmade moist areas such as irrigated gardens, sports fields or urban parks will also attract the Hadeda.
- Although they wander far from their roosting site to forage for food, they roost in the same place year after year.
- Often heard before seen, there is no missing this loud, raucous birds call. The distinctive “HaDeDa” call is given as the bird takes off, is in flight or is just startled. At dawn the Hadeda is very vocal and then again at night when they come home to roost.
- Unlike other Ibis species the Hadeda is monogamous. Breeding is just after the rainy season. Mating displays consist of mutual bowing and display preening. Males then gather nest materials that get offered to the female. The nest consists of sticks placed about 3 – 6 meters above ground in a basket shape. This is then lined with grass. The nests are not the best structures and often the eggs and/or young fall from the nest. Nest sites are usually used year after year although not always by the same breeding pair. The females lay 1 to 6 eggs which are green in colour and for the next 28 days both male and female will incubate the eggs and feed the young. Young are independent at about 40 days.
There are many cultural tales about the Hadeda. In Lesotho the call of the Hadeda is considered a sign of rain coming. Amongst the Zulu’s it is said that if you mock the Hadeda you will break out in abscesses. If they are often flying over your crops it is said to foretell of a rich harvest that year.