16 April 2021
There’s a black bird with red wings in South Africa that resembles North America’s red-winged blackbird except for his outrageously long tail.
The long-tailed widowbird (Euplectes progne) is not related to red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). The widowbird is a weaver (Ploceidae), red-wings are New World blackbirds (Icteridae), yet male and female widowbirds have very similar coloring to male and female red-wings. The similarity ends when you see his tail.
His tail is an important part of his courtship flight display.
Long-tailed Widowbird pic.twitter.com/0rgwCLNvUY— Mike Melton (@waxwingeco) April 10, 2021
In the video he briefly lands near a female on the ground.
Female long-tailed widowbirds don’t have long tails but they must exert a lot of selective pressure for the longest tailed males.
That tail doesn’t look like a safe accessory. I’m sure some females are widowed during the breeding season. 😉
(photos from Wikimedia Commons)