Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1283–1293 | Cite as

Hadedas in the hood: Hadeda Ibis activity in suburban neighbourhoods of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Preshnee Singh
  • Colleen T. Downs


Urban environments are a combination of green and grey spaces and although many species are unable to live in these transformed areas there are some that can use urban features to benefit their persistence here. The Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) is one such species and this study investigated the urban activities of these birds. Five suburbs of Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa were surveyed for Hadeda Ibis engaged in flying, foraging, perching and calling behaviours. Each suburb differed in the degree of urbanisation and we expected that their morning activity would differ accordingly. A difference in Hadeda Ibis calling, foraging and flying activity between summer and winter was also expected because of seasonal rainfall patterns. Although Hadeda Ibis were more common in suburbia than the city centre in Pietermaritzburg, they occurred throughout. More were observed calling in summer than in winter probably because of changes in distribution during the breeding season with more family groups of two or three individuals. There was no significant difference in Hadeda Ibis flock size when comparing foraging during summer with winter despite greater summer rainfall. Also there was no significant difference in flock size with flying activity for both seasons nor suburb although it was expected that Hadeda Ibis would need to travel further during winter and from suburbs with more grey space to access ideal foraging areas. Hadeda Ibis need moist soil to forage effectively and in an urban environment short grassed, well watered lawns provided an ideal foraging habitat regardless of season. Hadeda Ibis used urban structures like house roofs, poles, pylons, and fences for perching but continued to roost in trees so while they are able to use urban features, they still rely on a certain degree of green space for urban persistence.


Bostrychia hagedash Urban ecology Activity behaviour Seasonal behaviour Degree of urbanisation 



Thank you to A. Canning, T. Mkhize, B. Nomda and M. Sibiya for their assistance with data collection, B. Gijsbertsen for assistance with ArcGIS and the National Research Foundation (ZA) for providing a bursary to P. Singh. We are grateful for the constructive comments of the reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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