Thursday, 13 June 2013

Jackson's widowbird

Euplectes jacksoni

Photo by Szymon Beuch (Forum Przyroda)

Common name:
Jackson's widowbird (en); bispo-de-Jackson (pt); euplecte de Jackson (fr); obispo de Jackson (es); leierschwanzwida (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Ploceidae

These birds are found in central and western Kenya and north-eastern Tanzania.

The females are 14 cm long but the males reach 30 cm due to the large tail they develop with their breeding plumage. Males are also 40% heavier than females.

The Jackson's widowbird is found high-altitude grasslands and arable land. They are present at altitudes of 1.500-3.000 m.

They feed on grass seeds, particularly those of Themeda triandra and Panicum, as well as termite alates.

Jackson's widowbirds are polygynous and can breed all year round. The males perform a peculiar dance to attract females, matting with several females and having no further part in the breeding process. The nest is a domed ball of woven grass with a side entrance, lined with grass seed-heads, usually placed within 10 cm of the ground in a tuft of grass, with living grass bent down over it to form a bower. There the female lays 2-4 eggs which she incubates for 12-13 days. The chicks are fed by the female and fledge 17 days after hatching.

IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a relatively large breeding range and is described as locally common.
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation, as a result of intensified agricultural development and livestock production. Fires, started by pastoralists to control ticks, are common in the dry season, and temporarily destroy most suitable habitat.

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