Long-tailed Widowbird


Long-tailed widowbird (Euplectes progne)


©Nigel Dennis
The male long-tailed widowbird is the largest of the widowbirds at 60 cm, found in South Africa.
This bird is very conspicuous in its breeding plumage. The bird has black plumage with the tail being around 50 cm long, with orange, red and white epaulettes.
The breeding male long-tailed widowbird has a black eye and a heavy white bill.
The non-breeding male has the same colouring as the female, with black flight feathers and a bluish bill. The female long-tailed widowbird is a lot smaller than the male at around 20 cm in length.
The female has brown flight feathers and a tawny coloured plumage, with a brown bill.


The long-tailed widowbird eats mainly grass seeds, but will take insects.

Long-tailed Widowbird Breeding

The long-tailed widowbird is polygynous (the breeding practice of a male breeding with more than one female at the same time). A male will have up to five breeding females in his territory. The male is territorial and will defend his territory. When a female enters his territory, the male widowbird gives a distinctive flying display to attract the female.
The female long-tailed widowbird will complete the nest building for breeding, the male only builds a simple grass ring. The finished nest is a woven dome, with a lining of seed heads, built in long grass.
The female lays 2 or 3 eggs and they are incubated by the female only, for around 13 days. The chicks are fed exclusively by the female until they fledge at around 17 days.


During the breeding season, the male long-tailed widowbird will have a display perch in his territory where he advertises his presence to the females. When a female comes in to his territory, he displays to her by flying with laboured and slow wing beats, flashing his epaulettes.


None, the long-tailed widowbird is of least concern.


The long-tailed widowbird is found in the eastern half of South Africa, mainly on grassland and cultivated areas.