If it wasn’t for the male’s conspicuous tale, which they wear only in the breeding season, it would be very easy to overlook the Long-tailed Paradise Whydah. Females, and non-breeding males, measure about 12cm in length and are decidedly drab, blending perfectly with their environment. But in the breeding season, which spans the summer and autumn months, males sport high contrast colours and a very fancy tail that can measure more than 20cm in length, which certainly makes them stand out even from a distance.
Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs are seed-eaters, supplementing their diet with only the occasional insect, and inhabit grasslands, savannas and open woodland, also venturing into adjacent agricultural fields and villages.
Male Long-tailed Whydahs are territorial and attempt to mate with as many females as possible in a breeding season. Being brood-parasites the females then lie between 1 and 3 eggs in the nests of, especially, the Green-winged Pytilia, The chicks hatch after 11 days and look almost identical to the chicks of the host birds with which they leave the nest about two weeks after hatching, becoming fully independent at about a month old.
In South Africa, the Long-tailed Paradise Whydah occurs from Kwazulu-Natal through Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, North West and the Free State to the extreme eastern-most districts of the Northern Cape. Their distribution further stretches from Namibia to Ethiopia and Somalia. According to the IUCN the Long-tailed Paradise Whydah’s conservation status is of least concern.