Fan-tailed Widowbird ( Euplectes axillaris, family: Ploceidae)

Birds & Birding in the Kruger National Park South Africa. In Roberts 6 this bird was called Red-shouldered Widow

The Fan-tailed Widowbird (Latin name Euplectes axillaris) is described in Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition. This bird has a unique Roberts number of 828 and you will find a full description of this bird on page 1031 also a picture of the Fan-tailed Widowbird on page 1025. The Fan-tailed Widowbird belongs to the family of birds classified as Ploceidae. According to the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology the Fan-tailed Widowbird is also known by these other names: Red-shouldered Whydah.

In the previous edition of Roberts (ie 6th edition) the Fan-tailed Widowbird was called the Red-shouldered Widow

The map of the Kruger you see on this page shows the areas (coloured orange) where this bird has been identified. The basic information was provided by the Avian Demographic Unit based at UCT and I created the maps from that information ... the green dots show the locations of the various Kruger National Park Rest Camps

The Fan-tailed Widowbird is neither Endemic or near Endemic to the Kruger National Park.

In terms of distribution of the Fan-tailed Widowbird in the Kruger National Park you may not see it in all areas. Fan-tailed Widowbird : see above distribution map.

Identification assistance for this avian species ...

One of the first indicators to take note of when trying to identify a bird is it relative size. For example how big is the bird compared to a well known familiar bird. The Fan-tailed Widowbird is a small bird about the size of a house sparrow. Do not take this relative indicator as anything other than a rough easy to remember indicator. It is not a accurate visualization. The height of the Fan-tailed Widowbird is about 15 cms and its weight is about 29 gms

You will find that the male Fan-tailed Widowbird plumage and colours are different to that of the female Fan-tailed Widowbird

  • Head is black.
  • Eye is brown.
  • Bill is black.
  • Throat is black.
  • Back is black.
  • Legs are black.

This bird has normally proportioned leg length.

Main diet items for this bird ...

The Fan-tailed Widowbird feeds on the ground mainly



Breeding and nesting habits for this bird ...

The Fan-tailed Widowbird takes on more than a single mate (it is bigamous).

The nesting habit of Fan-tailed Widowbird is to create the nest in branches of a tree or shrub. The bird lays eggs which are blue in colour and number between 2 to 4

Habitat and flocking behaviour for this bird ...

The preferred habitats for Fan-tailed Widowbird are: grasslands . The Fan-tailed Widowbird is also at home in wetland and bushveld areas.

You will normally see the Fan-tailed Widowbird in flocks.

Names of this avian species in other languages ...

Xhosa ... Isahomba/Isakhomba

Zulu ... iNtaka/uMahube/uMangube

Afrikaans ...Kortstertflap

German ... Stummelwida

Portuguese ... Viva-de-espduas-vermelhas

French ... Euplecte paules oranges

Dutch ... Roodschouderwidavink

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For in-depth birding information please refer to these authoritative avian references ...

Robert's 7th edition number ... 828

The main reference source for this data was "Roberts - Birds of Southern Africa, 7th Edition" . Other references were "Newmans Birds of the Kruger Park" by Keith Newman published circa 1980 . Names in foreign languages were obtained from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town website ,