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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Fan-tailed Widow

Afrikaans name: Kortstertflap

Male Fan-tailed Widow at Albert Falls Dam

Male Fan-tailed Widowbird

Photo © Steven Herbert

Euplectes axillaris

The male Fan-tailed Widow is easily distinguished during summer with its black plumage, red shoulder patches and relatively short tail. Outside of the breeding season it is brown with paler red patches on is wings. Females are nondescript brown.

Males are territorial during the breeding season and may nest with four females. The nests are made in long grass. Each female lays 2 or 3 eggs and she incubates them without assistance from the male.

The main food of the Fan-tailed Widow is grass seeds. They also eat termites and some caterpillars.

Male Fan-tailed Widow at Albert Falls Dam

Photo © Steven Herbert

These widowbirds are found in the eastern regions of South Africa where they occupy marshy areas and grasslands.

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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 311

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1959 - Page: 28

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 28

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 216

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Year Published: 1992 - Page: 112

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 260

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 78

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 212

Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 310

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 416

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 2000 - Page: 414

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Year Published: 1949 - Page: 349

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 569

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1981 - Page: 580

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 737

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 736

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 390

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 424

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 55

List of South African Birds

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