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.
The African legend says that this bird, the Pin-tailed Whydah (Afrikaans name, Koningrooibekkie) is so in love with himself that he has developed into a real nuisance during the breeding season. He has the loudest mouth and does not tolerate any other birds anywhere near any food as he believes that it all belongs to him. The legend says that all the birds reported him to the Wise Old Owl and complained about his loudness, his aggression and of him chasing them all.
So the Wise Old Owl called upon the Falcon and told him to go out and sort out this untenable situation. The Falcon set out, found the Pin-tailed Whydah and sat watching him for a while, what he noticed was that the Whydah was particularly proud of his long tail plumes and that he took every opportunity to show them off. He would fly up high and present these beautiful plumes to the little female and so the Falcon came up with a plan. As the Pin-tailed Whydah flew up into the sky to show off his plumes, the Falcon swooped down and plucked his long tail plumes. All of a sudden the forest and woodland and wetlands became quiet and peaceful, the Pin-tailed Whydah now had a short tail just like the female and all was well once again.
Each year the Pin-tailed Whydah’s tail grows back and he reverts to his old noisy self, but the falcon is nearby and will de-plume him once again. To this day you will find the Falcon’s nest all beautifully lined with those long black tail plumes.
His wife on the other hand is quite different without a long tail but she is the cutest little thing you have ever seen.
~ Courtesy Wildlife Den