Pin-tailed Whydah


Pin-tailed Whydah - Vidua macroura

Pin-tailed Whydah Appearance

©Roger de la Harpe
The Pin-tailed Whydah is around 13 cm in length. The male in breeding plumage has a long tail, of up to 20 cm in length, with the bird having a black back and crown.
The wings are dark brown with white patches. The rest of the plumage is white. The bill is a red/orange colour.
The female and non-breeding male both have white underparts with fawn coloured flanks. The face is fawn and black with a black moustachial stripe.
The upper part of the plumage is a streaked brown pattern. Both male and female have red/orange bills.

Pin-tailed Whydah Diet

The Pin-tailed Whydah feeds mainly on seeds, with flying termites making up a small part of their diet.

Pin-tailed Whydah Breeding

The Pin-tailed Whydah is polygynous and the males have several females in his group. This whydah is a host-specific brood parasite and the female lays her eggs in the nest of a waxbill. The common waxbill being the primary host and the orange-breasted waxbill being the secondary host. Unlike other brood parasite’s, the pin-tailed whydah does not remove the host's eggs when laying its own and the parasite chick does not kill its host “sibling”. The Pin-tailed Whydah female will lay 3 to 4 eggs in the host's nest. When the chicks hatch, they mimic the gape pattern of the host fledging.

Pin-tailed Whydah Behaviour

The male Pin-tailed Whydah is very aggressive and will chase other males out of his territory during the breeding season. The male has an elaborate courtship flight display and can be seen hovering over the female, displaying his long tail.



Distribution and Habitat

The Pin-tailed Whydah is not found in arid areas of South Africa, but is a common resident in the rest of South Africa. This bird is found in gardens, grasslands and open woodlands.