Paradise Whydah

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passerifornies Ploceidae Vidua paradisaea

• ORDER • • FAMILY • • GENUS & SPECIES •

Passerifornies Ploceidae Vidua paradisaea

Bird Paradise Eggs

WHERE iN THE WORLD?

Found over much of eastern and southern Africa, from Angola east through Zambia and Zimbabwe east to Mozambique

breeding

The paradise whydah not only relies on the green-winged pytilia for hatching and feeding its chicks, but males mimic the pytilia's song when courting female whydahs.

habitat

The paradise whydah frequents open savannahs in eastern and southern Africa with scattered acacia trees or shrubs. The bird can be found at elevations from sea level to 7,000', but the largest concentrations are at altitudes below 5,000'. Since the whydah is dependent on its host, the green-winged pytilia, during breeding, the whydah seeks the same type of dry, open country woodlands and savannahs with thorny scrub that the pytilia prefers.

► Tree house The paradise whydah prefers the open woodlands and savannahs of eastern and southern Africa.

food & feeding

The whydah wanders along the open savannah in search of insects and seeds, which the bird cracks open with its strong bill. While walking, the whydah often jumps backward with both feet together; scratching the ground to uncover a tasty snack The bird feeds in small or mixed flocks of whydahs.

► Scratch and sniff Scratching with its feet, the whydah unearths seeds.

During the breeding season, the polygamous male flies with his impressively long tail feathers raised almost at a right angle to his body The male hovers around a female, slowly beating his wings as if to hypnotize his potential mate. All whydahs are brood parasites and lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. The paradise whydah males shows the female the nest of a pytilia, and the female then lays 1-5 eggs in the pytilia's nest. Once the eggs hatch, after incubating for 12-13 days, the whydahs chicks mimic the calls of their fellow nestlings.The pyt-ilias then take over the care of the young whydahs until they fledge about I 6 days later

food & feeding

Breeding Season

Whydah eggs are only 0.1" larger than the green-winged pytilia's eggs.

The paradise whydah parasitizes 92% of the nests of its host; there is a maximum combined clutch of 10 eggs.

PARASITIC NESTER

PARASITIC NESTER

Q Unknowing host.

The green-winged pytilia, which builds its grass nest in a thorn bush, will soon return to an unexpected surprise.

0 A home of their own.

The female paradise whydah closely inspects the nest, which already contains one white pytilia egg, before laying her own eggs.

Then there were four.

The pytilia doesn't seem to mind the new additions, since they closely resemble her eggs in size, shape and color.

© Mimic this, mimic that

Not even the parents can tell the difference between the chicks since the markings in the mouth openings are so similar.

Q Unknowing host.

The green-winged pytilia, which builds its grass nest in a thorn bush, will soon return to an unexpected surprise.

0 A home of their own.

The female paradise whydah closely inspects the nest, which already contains one white pytilia egg, before laying her own eggs.

Then there were four.

The pytilia doesn't seem to mind the new additions, since they closely resemble her eggs in size, shape and color.

© Mimic this, mimic that

Not even the parents can tell the difference between the chicks since the markings in the mouth openings are so similar.

The mimicking behavior of the whydah begins at birth, when hungry whydah chicks mimic the vocalizations of their foster siblings. Adult males also mimic the song, chirps and warbling sounds of the green-winged pytilia, especially during the breeding season. The whydah has its own calls as well that begin with a long, introductory whistle.The male mixes its own song with the mimicked song during the mating ritual. During courtship, the territorial male will perform spectacular cruising flights high in the air; which end in a series of swooping plunges back to treetops where the females gather Despite its small size, the whydah is a pugnacious bird that will chase other larger birds away if threatened. Small flocks that forage and perch together will eventually separate into pairs during the breeding season.

The male paradise whydah mimics the green-winged pytilia with its calls.

conservation

The paradise whydah is fairly common and can be found in large numbers throughout its African range. A high rate of hatching success assures the whydah continued strong populations.As with any brood parasite, the success of its host, the green-winged pytilia, is essential to the paradise whydah's success.The green-winged pytilia is also fairly plentiful and not threatened at this time.

The male paradise whydah mimics the green-winged pytilia with its calls.

Breeding Season
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