Long-tailed Paradise Whydah

Vidua paradisaea

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.

35 thoughts on “Long-tailed Paradise Whydah

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      First off, a hearty welcome to our blog, Kathryn, and we hope you’ll come visiting often!
      Indeed, those tails must be such a burden to the males – the lengths they’ll go to to impress the females! (though I suppose most humans also go to quite some lengths to make a catch!)

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  1. Jet Eliot

    As a birder, I have dreamed of seeing this male in breeding with its glorious tail, studying the field guide, marveling at this wonder. Your photos here are marvelous, and much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Anne

    The male Pin-tailed Whydahs around here are beginning to lose their winter tweed coats and are gradually growing into their black-and-white tuxedos. At the moment the lengthening of their tails is observable, although it will be a while before their long black feathers appear.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. T Ibara Photo

    Hello Dries,
    What a stunning bird! It’s nice to see the males working so hard for the females πŸ™‚
    As always, your posts brighten my day during these uncertain times.
    Hoping you and all your family continue to stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Hi Takami, and nice to receive your ever kind commentary on our post!

      We remain blessed and keeping safe. I hope things are looking better in your part of the world as well?

      Like

      Reply
  4. H.J. for avian101

    Very interesting bird to photograph. I take it that might not be a fast flier. I think that a long tail like that causes “drag” diminishing the speed. Great post, D. Thank you. πŸ™‚

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    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      They moult their colourful and flamboyant feathers and become as drab and unremarkable as the females, Lois, only to grow it all over again the next breeding season. So much trouble to make a good impression!

      Liked by 1 person

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