The Hadeda is a large (up to 76 cm long), dark brown ibis with a white “moustache”, glossy greenish purple wings, a large black bill with a red stripe on the upper mandible, and blackish legs.
The Hadada Ibis is found throughout open grasslands, savanna, wetlands and rainforests of Sudan, Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Gabon, Zaire, Cameroon, Gambia, Kenya, Somalia and South Africa, and also in urban parks and large gardens. – Wikipedia
We South Africans have a complex relationship with these giants; their scream is thought by some to be the very chorus of Satan. Urban legend has it that they only scream when flying, because they are afraid of heights. They hang in packs; the troop in my garden number about eight and they lurk about waiting for opportunities to steal the dog pellets.
If I am late feeding the dogs in the morning, the birds come right up to my office door and scare me out of my skin with a shrill shriek. I curse them daily.
But death came into our garden on Friday afternoon and it has touched us deeply. Three of the birds were standing idly munching around the dog bowl when Lulubelle came hurtling around the corner and – a game she loves – scared them up into the air. One bird, panicked, flew straight into the courtyard wall and broke its neck. The poor creature fell to the ground and lay twitching in agony.
Out of nowhere came about twenty more of the birds, they stood around their injured friend and set to a collective shouting that was deafening.
My child was crying, hysterically begging me to do something to help the Hadeda.
And then it was over, the bird was dead and the others vanished.
All but one, which continues a vigil from the roof.
I wonder if they mate for life?