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Booth Museum Bird of the Month, November 2019: Whydah Vidua paradisaea

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The Booth focus on the Long-tailed paradise whydah, Vidua paradisaea, for November

Whydahs are brood parasites, like the European cuckoo, though they do not destroy the host’s eggs. Whydah chicks are larger and louder than the host’s, which means they are given more food. The long-tailed paradise whydah uses the green-winged pytilia (a type of finch) as a host.

The species can be difficult to distinguish from each other, therefore the host finch is often used to determine this. Whydahs recognise the song of the finch, which the male imitates.

Outside of the breeding season the male moults his breeding plumage, including the very long tail, making them difficult to distinguish from the females.

Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant and Lee Ismail, Curator of Natural Sciences