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Whydah: Pin-tailed Whydah

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Whydah: Pin-tailed Whydah

Unread postby DinkyBird » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:30 am

Towards the end of each winter the seed tray in my garden is visited by quite a number of pin-tailed whydahs and the only way to tell the difference between the males and females is by the colour of their bills; males having red bills and females pinkish brownish bills. Soon the males start to get their distinctive black and white breeding plumage and spar between themselves for the right to dominate the seed tray. This year it was really obvious to me who would win this contest from an early stage and soon he was the only male left visiting my garden. But what a pain this male turns out to be each year. Once he has chased off any competition of the pin-tailed variety, he sees it as one of his most important functions to keep every other bird out of the garden too. How does one cope with this? Surely the doves, weavers, sparrows and other seed eating birds still have a right to visit the seed tray! I looked around for some information. Put seed out elsewhere for the others birds I read, so I have done this. Not long and the pin-tailed whydah finds this and proceeds to dominate this area too, dive bombing and frighting the wits out of any other poor visiting seed eater.

As the season moves on keeping other birds away from any seed in the garden becomes his main objective, second only to mating with any female pin-tailed whydahs (well he puts a great deal of effort in trying to do so flapping away frantically after them). So he never has a moments peace all summer. He stops off to eat briefly at times otherwise his life is one of maniacal flying between all the seed trays to ensure no other bird apart from his lady pin-tailed whydahs stop off to feed, mating, and fighting any reflection of himself in the windows or car mirrors. This chap must sleep really well at night! This behaviour carries on until the end of summer and one day, looking very tatty having lost a tail feather or two along the way, he disappears and peace reins in the garden for a few months.

Does a pin-tailed whydah in the wild try and dominate an area as much as the ones in our gardens do?

Obviously this guy has little time for domestic duties and is a dreadful father. Whydahs are parasitises laying their eggs in the nests of other birds.

Any tips on what to do with this nuisance in my garden?
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Unread postby fevertree » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:34 am

I have the same problem in my garden, but I have found that puting out seed in 5 or 6 different spots just confuses him too much. By the time he gets round to all of the sites to chase the other birds away, they have at least had a chance to eat and then fly off to the ext spot and eat there until he appears a few minutes later on his rounds - but yes, they do have amazing energy and vigour.
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Unread postby DinkyBird » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:38 am

Do you think they behave in the same manner in the wild FT?
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:43 am

I have even read that a pintailed was captured and one of the tailfeathers clipped slightly to id it. It was translocated as to speak a few km's further off. It was back in a couple of hours.

I love them. they realy scare the processed seed out of the other birds. He is the only one to give a common mynah a run for their money.
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Unread postby fevertree » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:49 am

I must agree, they have the guts of a rottweiler!!
I think their behaviour in the wild is very similar if they find a patch of grass that is setting seed. I have seen them in our local botanical gardens chasing other birds, but have never stopped long enough to observe if they are equally posessive over a certain patch, but I would think they would be if they found a rich food source in the wild - just seems to be in their nature.
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Unread postby david » Thu Sep 08, 2005 10:14 am

what i have found works is doing unto he, what he doeth unto others.... each time i see the male, i run out and chase him away, frightening his processed seed outta him. After a few days of that he seems to get sick of it, and shuffles off, dragging his harem with him flapping and squeaking. The upside now is that we are absolutely swamped with bronze mannikans, cut throat finches etc and havent seen a pintail in a long while.

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Unread postby Zebra » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:27 pm

Translation below

Alo amigos
Eu e Jumbo temos no nosso jardim o Pin-tailed Whydah chamado guarda, ela e muito ingrassada. Avolta do jardim pusemos os cumidores para que sirva todos eles. Mas oguarda sofre de um lado para o outro ipedindo que os outros comem. Ele e mais chata no verao guando comeca a ter a cauda comprida e amigo no inverno quando perde a cor do verao.

Nos meses passados o primeiro Pin-tailed Whydah morreu e deixou muitos bebes. Que agora ja comessaram com o filme de luta para com os outros passaros. Eu e Jumbo somos guardas para que os cassadores dos passaros nao os ponham nas gaiolas. Eu e Jumbo somos guardas dos guardas.

Esta ai foto do primeiro guarda que o Jumbo tirou-o.

Hallo friends

Jumbo and me also had a Pin-tailed Whydah in the garden that we gave the name of Guarda (means guard). He was very aggressive. We have placed birdfeeders all over the garden but he still chased all the birds from one side to the other. He was very naughty in summer as soon as he got his long tail. In winter he had different colours and was then friendly with all the other birds.

A few moths an ago the first Pin-tailed Whydah died but he left a lot of offspring. These offspring is fighting it out now. Jumbo and me are now guarding these birds to protect them from the birdcatchers. Jumbo and me are now Guardas for the Guardas.

Here is a photo that Jumbo took of the first Guarda.


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Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:07 pm

Zebra wrote:A few moths an ago the first Pin-tailed Whydah died but he left a lot of offspring. These offspring is fighting it out now.

The first one I had in my garden also died - he finally drove himself completely mad and spent the whole day fighting his image in the car mirrors and one day I left the car window open and he got inside and could not get out again before I found him ... :cry: felt sorry for him but it was as a result of his dementia. But his young carry on his legacy....
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Unread postby wildheart » Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:41 pm

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In action.
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{Images resized by DQ}

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Unread postby wildheart » Wed Sep 19, 2007 3:56 pm

We had a dominant Whydah in our garden last summer - he left us during the winter. With the spring we received a new addition - a monster on steroids!!! This male does not only dive onto the other birds in our garden - he actually lands on their backs and bite them in the neck. :shock:

There are feeders all over our garden and we do have 2 pairs of Crested Barbet and 2 pairs of Black Collard Barbet - but like the Afrikaans name says 'Koningrooibekkie' - this guy is currently King NERO in our garden! :evil:

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Unread postby Candy's Style » Sun Nov 18, 2007 4:13 pm

It does say that breeding males are aggresive towards all birds at the feeding station but they didn't mention just how aggresive :shock: :lol:

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sun Nov 18, 2007 7:03 pm

I thought that posting examples of pintails, one in its winter woolies and one in transitional garb would add some value to this thread.

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The Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura, is 12 – 13 cm tall (plus a 22-cm tail in breeding adult males) and weighs around 26 gm. The head is coloured black, white while the bill is coloured red. This whydah has a white coloured throat, black legs and a black coloured back.. The eyes are brown.

The non-breeding male differs from the female by the colour of its bill, it being bright red as opposed to the female’s pink-brown bill.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby arks » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:00 am

This one has me stumped!?! :hmz: Perhaps a redbilled quelea just changing into breeding plumage?

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby DotDan » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:58 am

Pin Tailed Whydah :wink:


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