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Length 16-19 cm (breeding male 60 cm), mass 25-46 g. The largest widowbird.
The breeding male unmistakeable with its long tail, broad black wings and red-and-white shoulders.
Africa: Three separate populations: One in the Kenyan highlands, one from Angola, northern Zambia and extreme southern Democratic Republic of Congo, and another from eastern South Africa, Lesotho, western Swaziland and extreme south-eastern Botswana.
Each of the three populations is recognised as a subspecies:
Open tall grassland, usually in valleys.
Forages in flacks on the ground, mainly for seeds, but also eats invertebrates.
Polygynous and territorial; up to five females per breeding male. The nest is thick-walled, oval structure of woven grass and has a side-top entrance. One to four eggs are incubated for 12-14 days by the female. The nestling period is about 17 days.
Sometimes parasitised by Dideric Cuckoo.
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