Eastern paradise-whydah

Eastern paradise-whydah
Vidua paradisaea

Photo by Marco Valentini (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
eastern paradise-whydah (en); viúva-do-paraíso-oriental (pt); veuve de paradis (fr); viuda del paraíso (es); spitzschwanz-paradieswitwe (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Viduidae

This species is found in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Sahel region from Senegal and southern Mauritania to Ethiopia, than south through Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, and into southern Angola, northern Namibia, Mozambique, eastern Botswana and north-eastern South Africa.

These birds are 13-15 cm long, but the elongated tail feathers of the males add another 36-40 cm to this length. They weigh 20-22 g.

The eastern paradise-whydah is mostly found in dry, open savannas, such as Acacia, miombo and mopane, also using scrublands, moist tropical forests, arable land and rural gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.400 m.

They feed on the seeds of various grasses and herbs, such as Panicum, Hyparrhenia, Melitis Sonchus, Synphytum, Taraxacum and Rumex. They also eat some invertebrates such as fly larvae, moths, spiders and earthworms.

The eastern paradise-whydah breeds mostly in January-June. They are polygynous, with males mating with multiple females. They are brood parasites, the females laying 1-3 eggs on the nest of a host, often green-winged pytilia Pytilia melba, or sometimes violet-eared waxbill Uraeginthus granatina. The eggs are incubated by the hosts for 11 days. The chicks mimic the host’s young in aspect and behaviour and are fed by the hosts. They fledge 16 day after hatching but only become fully independent 2 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as widespread. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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