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Length 12 cm; breeding male 25 cm.
Breeding adult male: Black with long tail (thinner tail than other long-tailed widowbirds); lacks coloured shoulder patches. West African birds are all-black, south-eastern birds have a red throat collar, and in north-eastern birds the red collar extends to the nape and crown.
Female and non-breeding male: Brown with a boldly striped black and buff head and unstreaked, buffy underparts.
Euplectes ardens has three subspecies:
Subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland.
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