The Hadeda Hotline

News and updates from the Hadeda Ringing Project

30 June 2010
Issue # 8

Dear hadeda enthusiasts,

It is with excitement after a long break in communication that we greet you. Lots has been happening at hadeda headquarters. We have a new member to the hadeda team; Dr Desire Dalton. She is based in Pretoria, and is a geneticist working for the National Zoological Gardens. She’s worked extensively on sexing blood samples from birds, and has worked with species such as steppe buzzards and storks. We are very excited to add this dimension to the project and to be working with Desire. She is analysing the hadeda blood samples for the project and has already sent in some interesting results.

It seems that all of our hard work in climbing those high trees has paid off. We’ve received two fantastic resights recently; Hadeda AL who was ringed in Durbanville on the 10th October 2006, was resighted on the 26th May 2010 - only 3km from where he was ringed. He was last seen on 10th December 2006 so where he’s been to since then is anybody’s guess. But it’s interesting that he should be sighted so close to where he hatched. Also, hadeda BL, who was ringed in Stellenbosch on 1st December 2006 was resighted in Durbanville on the 11th May 2010, and appeared to be searching for nesting material. This would be the first ringed hadeda that is observed breeding. It seems about right, as we estimated they start breeding at around 3 years of age – but to actually observe this would be ideal.

Dr Desire Dalton, a geneticist in Pretoria, who has joined the hadeda project. Desire is sexing the blood samples.

Photo: Doug Harebottle
Hadeda nestling siblings AL (left) and AI (right). Both were ringed in Durbanville in October 2006. AL was recently seen for the first time in under 4 years.

For his honours thesis in 2008, Greg also worked on hadedas. This year Greg, Res and Danni Guo, a spatial modeller at SANBI, made some changes to the manuscript and sent it in for publication. We are thrilled to report that it has been accepted into the journal Diversity and Distributions. The title of the paper is “Soil moisture limits foraging: a possible mechanism for the range dynamics of the hadeda ibis in Southern Africa”. This is the second paper to be published from the hadeda project, after Res and others’ earlier paper in Biological Letters in 2009. There's many more to come, though, as we unravel the hadeda's story and better understand them. Please contact us if you are interested in either paper.

The breeding season has now begun. It is amazing to observe the number of hadeda pairs that started building their nests after the early rains we had in May. Hadedas really are hard-wired to nest as soon as the rains come. So we are expecting lots of active nests soon. Unfortunately, Res, our main tree climber, is away at a conference for the next three weeks. Greg is going to try and take over the climbing duties in the meantime, but he’s just as scared of heights as hadedas appear to be (based on their cries of fear during flight). So don’t be surprised if you see him clinging for dear life in the midst of a tree!

The recent rains have spurred many hadeda pairs to begin constructing their nests. It takes about four weeks to finish building the nest, another four weeks to incubate the eggs, and a further four weeks until the nestlings will fledge.
Photo: Res Altwegg

The item of the moment; a vuvuzela -- long distant relation to the hadeda?

Finally, if you’re excited about the football but can’t take any more vuvuzelas, have a look here: The Director of the ADU, Prof. Les Underhill, has written about the World Cup from a slightly different angle.

So that’s an update on the latest news of the hadeda project. Thank you all for your help and interest thus far, and we kindly ask you to please report any resightings. Also, could you please keep a special eye out for hadedas constructing nests, or tending to nests with nestlings. Please keep reporting active hadeda nests, or if you make any other interesting observations on hadedas.


Greg Duckworth (Tel. 021 799 8861) Res Altwegg (Tel. 021 799 8809) and Doug Harebottle (Tel. 021 650 2330)

Project Coordinators


Hadeda Web Page