Pintailed whydah

Vidua macroura subfamily Viduinae taxonomy

Fringilla macroura Pallas, 1764, 'East Indies' = Angola. other common names

English: King-of-six; French: Veuve dominicaine; German: Dominikanerwitwe; Spanish: Viuda de Cola Aguda.

physical characteristics

4.7-5.1 in (12-13 cm), male with long tail 10.2-13.4 in (26-34 cm); female 0.5-0.6 oz (14-16 g), male 0.5-0.7 oz (14-19 g). Female and non-breeding male, brownish upperparts with broad black stripes on top of head, buff to white underparts. Bill brownish red. Breeding male, black and white with four long, black central tail feathers. Bill bright red. Juvenile plain brown above, buff below.

distribution

Sub-Saharan Africa. Introduced to Hawaii but apparently now extinct.

habitat

Open savanna and grassland, farmland, gardens. behavior

Male sings from perch, but does not imitate songs of host species. When female arrives, bounces in the air with tail flipping up and down while singing. Aggressive towards other males, but also to other species. Non-breeding birds gregarious, forming small flocks of 20-30 birds, often mixed with other small seed-eaters.

feeding ecology and diet

Mainly seeds, also some insects. Collects most food on the ground. Scratches with backward hops to unearth buried seeds.

reproductive biology

Brood parasite, polygynous. Lays one to two eggs per nest, removing host egg for each egg added. Incubation about 11 days, fledging about 20 days. Most frequent host is common waxbill (Estrilda astrild), also other waxbills and occasionally warblers. Host and parasite young reared together.

conservation status

Not threatened; widespread and common.

significance to humans

None known; annoys those who put out birdseed, as breeding male pin-tailed whydah will attempt to drive all other birds away from feeding site. ♦

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