The ubiquitous Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). People either love them or loathe them. I fall into the former category and am delighted to welcome them as residents of our garden. Their distinctive and strident ‘ha-ha-hadeeda’ call can be heard from near and far as they raucously remind all in the valley of their presence. They are particularly vocal at dawn and at dusk, although we sometimes hear a ‘frantic’ call if they are startled during the night.


Several Hadedas regularly roost in the enormous Erythrina caffra trees in the back garden as well as the Natal Fig that dominates the front garden. The latter has been a regular nesting place that has proved to be ideal for raising generations of offspring. The nest consists of a flimsy basket-shaped collection of twigs that is added to every breeding season.


The youngsters reach a point when they start testing their wings by flapping them furiously and, even though we see them walking around the garden not long after that, they continue to ‘beg’ to be fed by the adults. For a while the youngster can be seen in the regular company of one or both adults and later forages for food on its own. They often eat long earthworms that burrow underground – feasting on them after the rain – as well as catching crickets and other insects.


Late every afternoon, Hadeda Ibises congregate on the roof of our house, looking like sentinels perched on either the chimney or on the apex. They flap their wings on arrival, appear to settle down and then – after only a brief rest – fly off to join others still circling the valley, calling loudly as they do so. They eventually settle down to roost for the night.

As Hadeda Ibises are such sociable birds it is easy to imagine them greeting each other from afar in the mornings, deciding where to meet for the day’s foraging, and bidding each other goodnight as the sun sinks below the horizon.


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