Vidua paradisaea (Long-tailed paradise-whydah, Paradise whydah) 

Gewone paradysvink [Afrikaans]; uJojokhaya [Zulu]; Harusira (generic term for whydahs) [Kwangali]; Nyambubundu (also applied to Broad-tailed whydah) [Shona]; Mitikahincila [Tsonga]; Smalstaart-paradijswida [Dutch]; Veuve de paradis [French]; Spitzschwanz-paradieswitwe [German]; Viúva-do-paraíso-oriental [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Viduidae

Vidua paradisaea (Long-tailed paradise-whydah, Paradise whydah)  Vidua paradisaea (Long-tailed paradise-whydah, Paradise whydah) 
Long-tailed paradise whydah, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Long-tailed paradise whydah male (left) and females (right), Rooipoort Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Vidua paradisaea (Long-tailed paradise-whydah, Paradise whydah) 

Long-tailed paradise whydah male, Rooipoort Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Vidua paradisaea (Long-tailed paradise-whydah, Paradise whydah) 

Long-tailed paradise whydah juvenile, Rooipoort Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in sub-Saharan Africa from Ethiopia through Tanzania to Zambia, Malawi, Angola and southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, north-eastern South Africa, northern and south-eastern Botswana and northern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), generally preferring dry open savanna with scattered trees and bushes, such as Acacia, miombo (Brachystegia) and Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) woodland, also occupying adjacent fallow croplands and rural gardens.

Distribution of Long-tailed paradise-whydah in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats the seeds of grasses supplemented with insects, doing most of its foraging on bare ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet in captivity:

  • Seeds
    • Grasses
      • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
      • Panicum schinzii (Sweet grass)
      • Hyparrhenia hirta (Common thatching grass)
      • Melitis repens (Natal red top)
    • Sonchus oleraceus (Sowthistle)
    • Synphytum officinale (Comfrey)
    • Taraxacum (dandelions)
    • Rumex (docks)
  • Insects


  • It is a polygynous brood parasite, with males defending a territory of about 3 hectares within which there are multiple perches used for displaying, in an attempt to woo females. Interestingly males sometimes display to females of other species, such as Village indigobird. Its primary host is Green-winged pytilia, but it may also parasitise Violet-eared waxbill nests.
  • Egg-laying season is from January-June, peaking from February-May.
  • The female observes the hosts for at least 15 minutes before flying to the nest to investigate, after which it lays 1-3 eggs, which hatch after about 11 days of incubation
  • The chicks look similar to the host's chicks, even mimicking their begging and feeding behaviour. In captivity the whydah and host chicks left the nest together after 16 days; the whydah becomes fully independent at about 27-30 days old.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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