I know most of you expats contemplating a move to South Africa are worried about crime. But you know what you should REALLY be worried about? The Hadeda!
Yes, that’s right, a bird. And not just any bird. The Hadeda (curiously a member of the Ibis family) will be the reason you will wake up at five a.m. on your first South African morning, convinced that someone’s killing your neighbor. Or maybe more like your neighbor’s pig. Holy S#!t! It is a screech to wake up the dead.
And you will think: Seriously? You’ve got to be kidding me! I cannot live in this country. Or, rather, I cannot SLEEP in this country.
For weeks you’ll be scheming about ways to shut these guys up, but trust me, it’s not possible. We have a cat that catches everything that flies, but she doesn’t touch Hadedas. I suppose she is not as dumb as we thought when she jumped into the fireplace and got her whiskers singed. Because even a little Hadeda probably weighs more than her, and because that beak is really long and pointy.
You wonder why they have to be so loud. None of the other Ibis-related birds are so loud. In fact, none of the other Ibis-related birds make any sound at all. Leave it to our family to pick the one place to live that has the only non-mute ibises in the whole world.
Some say they are afraid of heights and screech out of fear. A bird, afraid of heights? That’s got to be a first. But it’s true, they only screech when they’re flying, often in groups all screeching together, and mostly in the mornings and evenings. In between, they are the most peaceful creatures, stalking around your lawn looking pretty and making themselves useful.
What, useful, you will ask? And it’s true. What they love most for dinner and are very adept at extracting from your lawn are Parktown Prawns. Yes, those things. Or their larvae. Or pupae. Frankly, I don’t care. Whichever form they digest them in, every Parktown Prawn less on my property is a good thing.
I just have to make peace with a pig squealing bloody murder every single morning.
Learn more about Hadedas and what South Africans think of them here: