Highveld Hula

Long-tailed Widow web

Long-tailed Widow (Euplectes progne). Wakkerstroom, South Africa.

Like black handkerchiefs being tossed about in a stiff breeze, the five birds moved randomly above the tall, lush grasses. Their impossibly long tail feathers and red shoulder patches identified them as Long-tailed Widows – one of the iconic bird species of the South African Highveld.

These performers were on their display ground – or ‘lek’ – competing for the attention of the drab, sparrow-shaded females which will line the nest shell made by each male and lay a clutch of 3 or 4 eggs.  The polygynous males typically mate with 4 or 5 females and play no role in the rearing of their young.

Wakkerstroom, South Africa. November 2010.


About Duncan Butchart

Duncan Butchart is interested in all aspects of the natural world, with a particular fascination for birds and their ecological relationships.
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2 Responses to Highveld Hula

  1. Peter says:

    They are amazing over-the-top displays of nature! To me, the fact that they can still fly is even more wonderous.

  2. Bridget says:

    Duncan thank you so much. I love reading your astute descriptions! I am sorry to have missed your uplands walk the other day but look forward to the next one!

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