Long-Tailed/Eastern Paradise Whydah

ANIMAL:
Long-Tailed/Eastern Paradise Whydah Vidua paradisaea

Type of Animal:
Songbird

Habitat:
Bushed grassland around cultivation, savanna, woodland, fallow croplands adjacent to open savanna woodland, rural gardens adjacent to open savanna woodland, open bush, subtropical/tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical/tropical dry shrubland, thornscrub, found from sea level to 7,000 ft

Location(s):
Extreme SE Sudan, NE & far SE South Sudan, Ethiopia, S Djibouti, NW & extreme S Somalia, Uganda, W & S Kenya, E Rwanda, E Burundi, Tanzania, area of Democratic Republic of Congo bordering Tanzania & extreme NE, Malawi, E & S Zambia, S & W Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana (except for C part), N Namibia, Eswatini, E South Africa

Appearance:
Females greyish-brown w/ blackish streaks & whiter area under tail feather as well as gray bill, breeding males have black heads/back, rusty breast, bright yellow nape, white abdomen, & broad long black tail, nonbreeding males brownish w/ black stripes on crown, black parts along face, deeper brown chest, & creamy abdomen, nonbreeding males & females fairly similar

Food/Diet:
Seeds, grains, greens, grubs, insects

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Not applicable

Lifestyle:
Flocks of 10-100 birds

Additional Info:

Called:
Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock

Weight:
0.74 oz, same for both sexes

Gestation:
2 weeks 

Life Span:
10-12 years

Height:
Male: 5.11 in
Female: 4.72 in

Body Length:
Male: 5.11 in
Female: 4.72 in

Tail Length:
Male: 11-12 in
Female: 2 in

Main predators are predatory birds, snakes, monitor lizards, & carnivorous/omnivorous mammals.
 
When foraging, they use “double scratch” in which they utilize feet almost simultaneously scratching ground to find seeds in dust & hop backwards picking up seeds. Also dehusk seeds w/ bill rolling seeds w/ tongue 1 at a time back & forth against palate ridge.
 
Sometimes killed due to being crop pests.
 
Sexually mature at 1.5-2 years.

Fun Fact(s):
Sometimes hybridize w/ related species-females respond stronger to songs mimicked by males of own species than to closely related species.
 
Kept as cage birds (especially males) due to song/breeding plumage-In 1581, Renaissance scholar Michel de Montaigne visited whydahs in Medici aviaries in Florence-described them w/ “tail of 2 long plumes like a rooster.”
 
Brood parasites laying eggs in nests of melba finches/green-winged pytilias. Males even imitate songs of these birds. Eggs & nestlings resemble these finches as well. These birds don’t rear own young. Unlike some brood parasites, they don’t destroy eggs originally there or kill host siblings.
 
May be called whydahs due to a few related species being common in Benin town of Ouidah/Whydah-a former slave-trading port. Other possibility could relate to genus name Vidua (Latin for “Widow”) referring to resemblance in many species of breeding male’s head feathers & long tail to grieving widow’s attire.

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