The Hadeda’s raucous call is unmistakeable. Loud, harsh and usually catching you by surprise. Hadedas were not indigenous to strandveld or renosterveld of the South Western Cape. Man-made changes in the form of cultivated agricultural fields, irrigated sports grounds and alien trees for nesting have made the environment more suitable to these birds’ requirements. This species moved into our area during the 1980’s and is now widespread.
The diet of this bird consists of a variety of insects, spiders, earthworms, snails and frogs. Prey items are either taken from the surface or captured by probing into soft soil. After good rains, groups of these birds may be seen on waterlogged sports grounds or cultivated fields where they gorge on insects that have been displaced by the standing water.
The Hadeda is somewhat of an oddball when compared with its cousins in South Africa. It is noisy, conspicuous and does not nest in colonies.
Pairs build nests in tall trees, often above streams or dams. The nest platform is an untidy bowl of sticks in which 2 to 4 eggs may be laid. Both parents incubate the eggs, which take between 25 to 28 days to hatch. Once the fledglings are able to clamber about they will leave the nest and can be seen perched ungainly on adjacent branches. The youngsters will take their first flight about 35 days after hatching and then join their parents when they roost in groups after the breeding season.