The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Pin-tailed Whydah

Male Pin-tailed Whydah in breeding plumage

Afrikaans name: Koningrooibekkie

A male Pin-tailed Whydah in breeding plumage. Taken in iMfolozi Game Reserve.

Photo © Steven Herbert

Vidua macroura

This interesting little bird is found across virtually all of South Africa. Beyond our borders it occurs in a number of sub-Saharan countries.

In some areas it is a common bird in gardens and is particularly obvious during the breeding season. They can be a pest as they try to chase away all other birds from their territory. During this time the male Pin-tailed Whydah seems to have an unlimited supply of energy as it courts females and chases away other birds.

Male Pin-tailed Whydah's are handsome birds during the breeding season. Non-breeding males and females are more drab. They are brown with dark streaks on the head and pinkish red bills.

Non-breeding males are about 12 cm in length. During the breeding season his length is 34 cm with his long tail.

During the breeding season the male can often be seen trying to court females. He flies in front of her bobbing up and down. He is quite persistent.

Breeding males are also very territorial and will aggressively chase rivals away.

A female Pin-tailed Whydah

Photo © Steven Herbert

These birds are parasitic breeders. Their main host is the Common Waxbill but other Waxbills are also affected.

Pin-tailed Whydah's feed on seed and grain.

References and further reading

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 184

Wildlife of the Cape Peninsula - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2001 - Page: 68

Wild About Johannesburg - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 1995 - Page: 61

The Birds of South Africa - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1979 - Page: 47

The Birds of South Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Published: 1949 - Page: 361

The Sandton Field Guide - Author: Sandton Nature Conservation Society - Published: 1982 - Page: 66

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Published: 1989 - Page: 150

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 203

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 2011 - Page: 426

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Published: 1993 - Page: 392

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1981 - Page: 599

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1985 - Page: 767

Roberts Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Published: 1993 - Page: 766

LBJs - Author: Newman, Johnson, Solomon, Masterson - Published: 1998 - Page: 121

Meeting with Birds - Author: Tom Spence - Published: 1986 - Page: 116

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1984 - Page: 432

Newmans Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 2000 - Page: 432

Newmans Garden Birds - Author: Ken Newman - Published: 1991 - Page: 122

Ian Sinclairs Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Published: 1988 - Page: 312

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1975 - Page: 587

Roberts Birds of South Africa - 2nd edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Published: 1957 - Page: 456

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 413

Geoff Lockwoods Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: Geoff Lockwood - Published: 0 - Page: 47

Garden Birds of Southern Africa - Author: P. Ginn & G. McIlleron - Published: 1981 - Page: 44

Garden Birds in South Africa - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2017 - Page: 145

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Published: 1987 - Page: 270

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Published: 1999 - Page: 82

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Published: 2005 - Page: 76

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Published: 1991 - Page: 224

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 115

Bird Atlas of Natal - Author: Digby Cyrus and Nigel Robson - Published: 1980 - Page: 286

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Published: 1985 - Page: 218

Birds of the Natal Drakensberg Park - Author: Robin Little and William Bainbridge - Published: 1992 - Page: 118

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Published: 0 - Page: 220

Birds of the Transkei - Author: C.D. Quickelberge - Published: 1989 - Page: 119

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1975 - Page: 34

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Published: 1959 - Page: 34

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Published: 1983 - Page: 321

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