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Paradise-Whydah

A bird of extravagant style
© Bernard Dupont View Large

A few times each year, the Eastern Paradise-Whydah puts on its party clothes. This small finch is found in East Africa, and males and females generally share the same nondescript appearance. But when it’s time to mate, the male sprouts extravagant, long, black tail feathers two or three times the length of his body. The feathers make it look like he’s wearing a long black cape, thus the nickname, “the widow bird.”

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®  

Paradise-Whydah

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote.
[Paradise-Whydah song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/28128281#_ga=2.130237135.1927678623.15..., 0.22-.28]
A few times each year, the Eastern Paradise-Whydah puts on its party clothes.
This small finch, found in East Africa, is just five inches long, with a black tail, brown back, and patterned face markings. But when it’s time to mate, the male molts into breeding plumage. His head turns glossy black, his neck golden yellow, and breast a vivid orange. But the best part? He sprouts extravagant, long, black tail feathers two or three times the length of his body.
[Paradise-Whydah song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/28128281#_ga=2.130237135.1927678623.15..., 0.22-.28]
The male Paradise-Whydah’s tail feathers are not just super long but also broad, as if they belonged to a much bigger bird. It almost looks like the bird is wearing a long black cape. That’s how it got its nickname, “the widow bird” -- because it looks like a widowed woman in black mourning clothes.
[Paradise-Whydah song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/28128281#_ga=2.130237135.1927678623.15..., 0.22-.28]
It’s a competitive scene during breeding season, with lots of long-tailed males chasing one another.
 [Eastern Paradise-Whydah call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/28128281#_ga=2.130237135.1927678623.15... , 0.32-.33]
The more a male gets chased, the more likely he is to grow a slightly shorter tail, which could make it harder for him to stand out for the ladies.
So just remember: never underestimate the power of a good party outfit.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
                                                             ###
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. ML 28128281 recorded by Andrew Spencer
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote   June  2020    Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#  EPWH-01-2020-06-16       EPWH-01 

Whydah is pronounced WHY-duh

about chasing males http://southafrica.co.za/long-tailed-paradise-whydah.html
https://www.hbw.com/species/green-winged-pytilia-pytilia-melba
https://www.beautyofbirds.com/paradisewhydahfinches.html

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