I cannot resist drawing your attention to the Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) again for they wake ever earlier now that the sun rises ever earlier too. Some people find their raucous onomatopoeic cackling call annoying, especially during the early mornings and evenings – believe me, you would miss them if you moved away for these unglamorous birds have a way of endearing themselves to one. I love listening to them as one groups sets off another perching in a tree further away and those to another and another, until you can hear the cacophany being repeated way down the valley. Several of them perch together in tall trees at night and one can see large flocks of them gathered on a school sports field or around water holes in a national park. In my garden I generally encounter them singly or in pairs. Their rump and wing feathers have a beautiful metallic purple and green sheen that glistens in the sunlight.
Hadeda Ibises make rather flimsy nests from sticks and lined with grass. The sticks for the nest are gathered by the male and then ceremoniously offered to its mate. Sometimes these sticks are so large that I wonder at the bird’s ability to carry them so far and so high. A pair of Hadedas have been raising chicks in the Natal Fig in our garden for some years. Another pair has chosen the Erythrina trees in our back garden for their nest.
They move around surprisingly quietly for such large birds, probing the ground with their beaks to find earthworms, slugs, snails, crickets or other insects as they go. This probing thus assists with the aerating of soil and the control of insect populations. While they tend to forage in silence, if Hadeda Ibises are disturbed in our garden, they fly noisily to perch in a tall tree – or often on the roof of our house.