The Painted Hadeda

In August 2023, Margi took a call from an extremely agitated Bryanston resident who had rescued a flapping hadeda (Bostrychia hagedash), twice, first from being hit by a car and then from a dog! What he tried to explain to her was that he thought someone had thrown white paint over the bird, it was covered in paint, most of it had hardened and was making life very difficult for the animal. The gentleman was also insistent that the bird should have no medication, Margi explained, at length, that the process of removing paint was a long process and often painful as we worked to slowly and gently to remove as much as possible. He was adamant and Margi agreed that she would be at Free Wildlife to receive and admit the bird, assess the condition and give recommendations.

Saturday arrived and mid-morning Margi was called to reception to meet the gentleman and to see the bird; it was much worse than she imagined, it looked to her that it may have got stuck in the paint and flapped a lot to try and get free, the entire abdomen was a solid casing. After a long discussion with him, Karin Squirrell and Margi persuaded him to leave the bird with them and to not use any meds. They agreed to this to just make sure the poor bird stayed with them to give it a chance of recovery. Karin offered to take on the challenge of removing the paint and kept the bird with her during the “operation clean-up”.

The painted hadeda was brought to Karin for extensive treatment. It entailed a daily cleaning whereby quite a lot of feathers had to be cut away. Enamel paint on feathers has always been a tricky one. After some research about how to best remove paint from a bird, Ilana, a volunteer at Free Wildlife got in contact with Arthur Potts from a company called Earthwize Environmental Products. She had read that two other rehab centers had success using a product called “Targone” for the treatment of paint and even glue. As luck would have it, Arthur was flying up to Johannesburg the next day and said he would bring some of his product for us. What a champ! After a few days, the transformation was quite incredible, the paint came off and fortunately “Attitude Arty” as Karin came to call him, was almost entirely a new bird! Since then, he was brought back to the center and is enjoying his large flight cage with a few friends. Soon this lucky fella will be released, paint-free!

A big thank you to Arthur from Earthwize for your care, product, and follow-up messages checking up on our beloved painted hadeda. We are very grateful for your help! And of course, a very big thank you to Karin as well for her patience and perseverance.


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