The hadeda is a large (about 76 cm long), grey-to-partly brown species of ibis. It has a narrow, white, roughly horizontal stripe across its cheeks. This is sometimes called the “moustache” though it does not reach the mouth corners. The plumage over the wings has an iridescent purple sheen. The bird has blackish legs and a large grey-to-black bill with a red stripe on the upper mandible. The upper surfaces of the toes are of a similar red. The wings are powerful and broad, enabling quick take-offs and easy manoeuvring through dense tree cover. It has an extremely loud and distinctive “haa-haa-haa-de-dah” call—hence the name.