If you have hadedas on your smallholding ~ and most of us do ~ this is a sign that you have a good variety of creatures who call your plot home.

Hadedas eat mainly insects, but also include crustaceans, spiders, earthworms, snails, small reptiles and fish. So if you have a resident pair or more, they must be enjoying the biodiversity that your property supports.

They are also doing you the favour of aerating your soil while they are digging into your lawn and beds.

Hadeda ibis
The beak of the hadeda is quite fearsome.

The hadeda is a large bird, reaching 70cms in length and 35-38cms in height. It appears to be a dull brown or grey. However, they have beautiful, glossy purple, dark green and bronze feathers on its wings. The hadedas on your smallholding are easily identified by their impressively long curved beaks, which have a red line during breeding season. They have blackish legs.

In the wild they forage in grasslands, savannas, bushveld, forest edges and riverine areas. Closer to built-up spaces they like large gardens, playing fields and airfields.

The hadeda is found throughout South Africa, except for the dry areas in the west. It also inhabits some other African countries.

They nest in trees and sometimes on power pylons, telephone poles or dam walls. The nest is shaped like a basket and is made out of twigs, sticks and leaves and lined with grass.


Breeding pairs are monogamous. They lay three to five eggs and both parents incubate the clutch. Hatching takes place after 26 – 28 days.

Like most of our bird life, the hadeda is threatened by loss of habitat. Its predators are the sparrow hawk and the African crowned eagle.

The word “raucous” is the most popular one used to describe the call of this well-known bird. The distinctive “haa-haa-de-dah” is what has led to its nickname of “flying vuvazelas.”

The Tumbuka speakers in northern Malawi apparently call them “Mwanawawa “, which is also based on the call.

The hadeda (Bostrychia hagedash) is part of the ibis family, along with the sacred, the glossy and the bald ibis.

1 thought on “Hadedas On Your Smallholding

  1. We have a pair that have built a nest in a pine tree quite close to the house on the farm. I think we have about 2 weeks to go before the hatchlings arrive

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