Sighting of Pin-tailed Whydah Juveniles

posted in: Courtship-Mating, Nesting | 5

“The courtship of the Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura) was first documented here in May 2013 LINK.

“Two years later, in April/May 2015, many birders and photographers had congregated at the same location of Pulau Punggol Barat. This was after news spread that Pin-tailed Whydahs had been spotted and indulging in courtship displays (above).

“The handsome male in breeding plumage with his very long black tail is already a sight to behold (above). Courtship displays are even more spectacular with the male hovering in flight to attract the perched female (below). The male with his long fluttering tail moving in tandem with the hovering was also a magnet for human spectators. It is no wonder that flocks of human beings braved the sizzling heat to marvel at these displays at this no-man’s-land.

“The attractive male with its black and white contrasting plumage and bright red bill was easily the most photographed subject. The female was less photographed. She has streaked brown upperparts, plain buff underparts, a buff and black face pattern, and a much duller bill.

“Making my way there in June after the feverish frenzy had subsided, it was somewhat surprising that I still get to see the much sought-after courtship display of this exotic species. Not only that, the Pin-tailed Whydah seemed to be breeding successfully. Attached are photographs showing three different juveniles that I managed to capture during my visit on 10 June 2015 (above, below).

“Note the white oral flanges at the base of the bills indicating that they are juveniles (below: normal and close up views).

“A search for matching images from the internet revealed that they are juveniles of the Pin-tailed Whydah. Juveniles have plain brown upperparts and buff underparts. Two juveniles were seen foraging separately on the ground and one was resting on a perch. They were all alone and by themselves.

“The Pin-tailed Whydah is known to be a brood parasite which lays eggs in nests of other Estrildid species, especially waxbills. The question is which species host its eggs here as quite a few species of escapee waxbills and native munias can be found in this area. It appears that the Pin-tailed Whydah is vying for permanent residence.”

Kwong Wai Chong
17th June 2015

5 Responses

  1. P pillay

    There is a lone pin tailed whydah in my garden in Durban South Africa. I have seen his hovering displays. He is a major nuisance to the scores of small birds that I feed as he drives them away. Is this behavior territorial?

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