- Euplectes axillaris
Length 15-17 cm. A short-tailed widowbird.
Breeding male: Black with red 'shoulders' and buff greater wing-coverts. The tail is fanned only in display.
Non-breeding male: Brown, streaked blackish; with black primaries and red 'shoulders'.
Female: Brown with blackish streaking above and reddish 'shoulders'.
Widespread throughout Africa:
Western Africa Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Eastern Africa Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mafia Island, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi.
Southern Africa Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland.
Euplectes axillaris has five subspecies:
- E. a. bocagei
- E. a. traversii
- Highlands of Ethiopia
- E. a. phoeniceus
- E. a. zanzibaricus
- E. a. axillaris
Tall grassland, reedbeds and sugar cane fields.
Non-breeding birds forage in large flocks (often with other seed-eating species).
Diet is mainly grass seeds; also insects.
The male sings from an elevated perch and in flight: a series of twittering and chirping sounds.
Polygynous; male defends a territory of up to 0.6 ha and breeds with up to four females in a season. The oval nest is built using grass and has a side-top entrance. It is located in marsh or rank vegetation within 0.8 m of the ground. Two to three eggs are incubated for 12-14 days by the female; the nestling period is 15-16 days.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
- Sinclair, I and P Ryan. 2003. Birds of Africa South of the Sahara. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0691118154
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Fan-tailed Widowbird. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 18 June 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Fan-tailed_Widowbird