Long-tailed velvet weaver (Latin Euplectes progne) is a bird of the weaver family (Ploceidae), the genus Velvet Weavers (Euplectes), common in the southern regions of Africa. Males during the breeding season are distinguished by a long tail that unfurls in flight, thanks to which the bird got its name.
These are the largest representatives of the weaver family.
The appearance varies greatly depending on the season. Females are of inconspicuous sandy-black color. Males during the mating season are pitch-black, with a long (up to two body lengths) deeply cut tail and red-white markings on the shoulders that never disappear. In the rest of the year - feathers are brown with black spots, the tail becomes short. Males are 16-19 cm long (with a tail up to 60 cm), weighing 25-45 grams. Females are 12-14 cm.
The beak of males is conical, strong, gray with a blue tint. The legs are black. Females are brown.
Found in Angola, Botswana, the southern outskirts of the DRC, in national parks in Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland and northern Zambia.
They feed mainly on plant seeds, but the diet also includes invertebrates: worms, small insects (coleoptera and hemiptera), arachnids.
Sexual behavior is due to the herd lifestyle of birds. In the spring, during the breeding season, males perform a ritual of attracting females, slowly circling over their territory, fluffing their tail.
Reproduction is polygamous, from November to February. In a family, there are up to 5 females per male. The nest is built by either parent on the ground, from grasses and branches, it is a thick-walled oval structure. The brood usually contains from one to four eggs. After 12-14 days of incubation, chicks hatch, which are in the care of their parents for about 17 days.
Often the nests of long-tailed velvet weavers become the object of parasitism of the Bronze Cuckoo, replacing the eggs of velvet weavers with its own.
There are three subspecies of long-tailed velvet weaver.
- E. p. delamerei (Kenya)
- E. p. ansorgei (Northern Zambia, DRC)
- E. p. progne (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana)
This amazing bird is about the size of a sparrow, but has an exorbitantly long tail that develops in flight.
Only males have such bright plumage. Females are grayish, nondescript, similar to sparrows.
When the bird flies, it looks like a black ribbon is flying in the air!
Long-tailed velvet weaver (Euplectes progne)
In the English-speaking world, this South African bird is called the "widow" for its unusually long black mourning tail.