Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura)

It is a small, highly sociable, docile that thrives in a wide range of open habitats, such as parks, gardens, and agricultural fields. The stunning adult male is conspicuous with its vivid reddish bill, and lengthy tail. Being a songbird, it produces various sounds, such as “chee-chee-chee,” “zhhweeet,” and “seeeooo” notes plus other shrieking and bustling calls.

Read further to know more about the Pin-tailed Whydah.

What is a Pin-tailed Whydah?

Pin-tailed Whydah is a smallish songbird belonging to the Viduidae family. Its breeding males stand out due to their flag-like tail. This bird is spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but while their appearance is striking, it is a parasite to the other species of birds such as those from the Estrildidae family.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Viduidae

Genus: Vidua

Species: V. macroura

Pin-tailed Whydah Physical Description

Pin-tailed Whydahs grow about 4.7 to 5.1 inches or 12 to 13 centimeters, but the breeding males measure around 7.8 inches or 20 centimeters due to their tail composed of four extended retrices. They have a black-and-white plumage, black face, crown, flight feathers.

Meanwhile, the upperwings have an entirely white wing patch seen on the scapulars. Underparts, nape, neck, chin, rump, throat are pure white. Bills are conical and bright red. Eyes are brown while legs and feet are darkish gray.

Female pin-tailed whydahs are different from males as they have brown plumage, short tail and pinkish bill. Their upperpart is barred with black and brown. Tail and wings are darkish brown with white and buff borders. Meanwhile, underparts are whitish with yellowish-brown and white sides, and brown-speckled flanks. A black and buff pattern can also be observed on the head.

During the non-breeding season, males are similar to the females but with wider contrasting markings and a relatively larger build.

Where can they be spotted?

Pin-tailed Whydahs thrive in grasslands, savannas, scrubs, bushveld, and farmland, though, can also be found in gardens and parks. The bird species is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa and has been introduced to Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Southern California.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Pin-tailed Whydah

Pin-tailed Whydahs primarily feed on insects and seeds. They forage on the ground characterized by backward jerking movement on their tarsi and snapping rapidly on the food item. These birds may also occasionally catch insects while on flight and drink at pools on the roadside.

Among both sexes, males are more observed perching on fences and telephone wires than the females. Males are also territorial and may have a few females in the group.

The long tail of the male pin-tailed whydah plays a vital role during courtship. The courtship antics of these birds are characterized by the male performing a spectacular mating dance while in flight, hovering above the female while it sings continuously and its long tail is swept up and down. The display is done low just over the ground, accompanied by circular flights, while also vibrating and dancing.

While stunning, pin-tailed whydahs are parasitic birds, which means they lay their egg in other birds’ nest stealthily and depend on the host to raise incubate and raise their chicks. They breed during the summer months when the parasitized species also usually breed.

The female usually lays its eggs on nests from birds species of the Estrildidae family, more frequently in the nest of the Waxbills. No eggs will be destroyed, and she will only add her eggs to the nest. The pin-tailed whydah chicks can resemble the original chicks of the host, with the same commissure patterns, gape, and throat. However, the pin-tailed whydah broods are relatively larger and will beg louder than the host species’ chicks, resulting in their death.

Pin-tailed Whydahs are spread throughout Africa and have a vast range. They are currently evaluated as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.



Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve


Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region

Etosha National Park



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls


Pintailed Whydah