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Hadada Ibis - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by max1
Cape Town, South Africa, 29 November 2017

Alternative name: Hadeda Ibis

Bostrychia hagedash


Adult, subspecies nilotica
Photo © by jstanleyg
Hawassa, Ethiopia, 10 May 2018

65–76 cm (25½-30 in); a stocky, dark brown ibis Adult

  • White "moustache"
  • Wings glossy in either greenish or purple (or sometimes both?)
  • Large black bill with a red stripe on upper mandible
  • Blackish legs

Juvenile and Immature lack the red stripe on the bill and the glossy color on the wings.

Similar Species

Glossy Ibis is smaller, with more delicate build, more slender bill and greenish-brown (not blackish) legs.


Subspecies brevirostris
Photo © by Steve G
Mandina Ba, Western Division, The Gambia, 7 March 2005

Africa south of the Sahara:
Western Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Zaire
Eastern Africa: Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, eSwatini
African Islands: Gulf of Guinea Islands: Bioko


This is a polytypic species.


Nominate subspecies
Photo © by marko.marais
Pretoria, South Africa, 28 March 2015

There are three subspecies.1:

  • B. h. brevirostris
    • Senegal to Kenya south to the Zambezi Valley
    • Darker below, less gray than nominate. Wing coverts with greenish gloss, less bronzy.
  • B. h. nilotica
  • B. h. hagedash
    • Southern Africa south of the Zambezi Valley
    • Paler and smaller billed than other races. Wings bronzy.


Found mainly around permanent waters close to open forest or woodland. They are frequently found foraging on lawns



Their diet consists of pupae and larval insects, as well as a variety of adult insects including spiders, crustaceans and millipedes.


Monogamous, solitary. Nest built by one bird, probably female with material brought by mate. Platform built of sticks with central bowl of of thin twigs. Lined with grass, lichen, leaves, weeds and debris including string. Placed on fork of horizontal branch usually near or over water. Recently increased nesting in suburban parks, streets and gardens away from water. Clutch of one to five heavily streaked and blotched eggs.


Both sexes have a highly distinctive, and very loud, call - haa-haa-haa-de-dah (the origin of their name "Hadada"). They are most vocal in flight at dawn and dusk when moving to and from their overnight roost.


Mostly sedentary, but nomadic in response to localized rainfall events. Young disperse from breeding area. Increased numbers at winter roosts suggest some seasonal movements.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Brown, L.H., Urban, E.L., Newman, K. (1982) The Birds of Africa, Vol. I. Academic Press. London.
  4. HMatheu, E., del Hoyo, J., Garcia, E.F.J., Bonan, A. & Boesman, P. (2018). Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/52765 on 26 June 2018).
  5. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  6. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992
  1. BF Member observations

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