The Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura, is a small resident songbird that lives in most of Africa south of the Sahara.
The adult male has a black upper plumage and crown and a long black tail. The head (except for the crown) and plumage below are white, and his wings are dark brown with white patches.
The female and non-breeding male have streaked brown upper-parts, whitish underparts with buff flanks, and a buff and black face pattern. The non-breeding male lacks the long tail extension that he grows during the breeding season.
The eyes are brown; the beak is bright red; the throat is white and the legs are black.
The male aggressively defends his territory and usually has several females. He has an elaborate courtship flight display that consists of hovering over the female and showing off his elongated his tail.
The female does not raise its own young (commonly referred to as “brood parasite”), but instead lays its eggs in the nests of finches, particularly waxbills – for them to raise. Some brood parasites will destroy the host’s eggs; however, the Pin-tailed Whydah simply adds its eggs to the nest – not harming the other eggs that the host already laid, generally 2 to 5 white eggs.
The eggs of the Whydah and the finches are all white – but the Whydah eggs are slightly larger than those of the host. The difference doesn’t appear to be noticeable enough to the host, and they generally incubate the eggs and raise the young as their own. The whydahs chicks have the same gape pattern as the fledglings of the host species.
The Pin-tailed Whydah primarily forages on the ground for various seeds and grain. They will also feed on insects, such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants.
The Whydah’s song consists of rapid squeaking and churring typically given from a high perch.