Whydahs
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Pin-tailedWhydah L: 13 cm (5") (breeding male 34 cm (13·5")) The breeding male is a striking pied bird with a bright red bill: it has a small body but sports a 21 cm (8") long fine, wispy tail . The buff-brown female and nonbreeding male have a reddish bill and a distinctive face pattern, and do not have a long tail . Female and non-breeding male Shaft-tailed Whydahs (not illustrated) look similar but have a more buffy and diffuse face-pattern – however this species is scarce in Kruger . Female and non-breeding male Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs have a more contrasting head pattern, white rather than buff on the face, and a black bill . The Pin-tailed Whydah is a common and widespread resident in Kruger, inhabiting woodland, grassland and camps . It is much more obvious in spring and summer (October–March) when males moult into their breeding plumage and display by fluttering above a female, bobbing up and down and repeatedly singing a high-pitched song, and also giving simpler “chip-chip-chip” notes . This seed-eater is highly territorial and aggressive, and has been known to kill other birds that it considers to be competitors . Whydahs and indigobirds (page 162) are finch-like brood parasites of waxbills. In non-breeding plumage they are cryptic and difficult to identify, but in the breeding season male whydahs develop long tails and bold plumages, while male indigobirds become black. A remarkable feature of these birds is that the mouth spots of their chicks (revealed when they beg for food) mimic those of the chicks of their host, helping to fool the host into believing that they are raising one of their own offspring. Whydahs male breeding male non-breeding/female 160 Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah L: 15 cm (6") (breeding male 36 cm (14")) The breeding male is unmistakable, having buff, chestnut and black plumage and a 21 cm (8") long tail with both short and bulging, and long, tapering, dagger-like feathers, which, from the side, looks thick and arched . Females and non-breeding males have a strongly contrasting black-and-white head, including a dark ‘C’ mark under the ears, a blackish bill, a pale tawny body, and black-and-white mottling on the wings and back . This species is a fairly common and widespread resident in drier woodland throughout Kruger, but remains cryptic and difficult to detect outside the breeding season . It makes dry “chip” calls and also mimics the calls and song of the Green-winged Pytilia (page 158), which it parasitizes . The whydah chicks are larger and more aggressive than pytilia chicks, guaranteeing the attention of their host ‘parents’ . BIRDS OF BROADLEAVED WOODLAND AND CAMPS male non-breeding/female male breeding 161 ...


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