The African legend says that this bird, the Pin-tailed Whydah (Afrikaans name, Koningrooibekkie) is so in love with himself that he has developed into a real nuisance during the breeding season. He has the loudest mouth and does not tolerate any other birds anywhere near any food as he believes that it all belongs to him. The legend says that all the birds reported him to the Wise Old Owl and complained about his loudness, his aggression and of him chasing them all.

So the Wise Old Owl called upon the Falcon and told him to go out and sort out this untenable situation. The Falcon set out, found the Pin-tailed Whydah and sat watching him for a while, what he noticed was that the Whydah was particularly proud of his long tail plumes and that he took every opportunity to show them off. He would fly up high and present these beautiful plumes to the little female and so the Falcon came up with a plan. As the Pin-tailed Whydah flew up into the sky to show off his plumes, the Falcon swooped down and plucked his long tail plumes. All of a sudden the forest and woodland and wetlands became quiet and peaceful, the Pin-tailed Whydah now had a short tail just like the female and all was well once again.

Each year the Pin-tailed Whydah’s tail grows back and he reverts to his old noisy self, but the falcon is nearby and will de-plume him once again. To this day you will find the Falcon’s nest all beautifully lined with those long black tail plumes.

mrs pin why

His wife on the other hand is quite different without a long tail but she is the cutest little thing you have ever seen.

This guy is a regular visitor to our feeding trays and true to the legend he bullies all the birds that may be feeding there. He is loud and flits around the garden sitting on the shrubs and shaking up his feathers and tail.

He really puts a smile on my face with all his antics.

13 Comments

  1. Shirleen
    29 September 2013

    Hi, i found one of these birds in my garden, i watch him for a few minutes, and i could not believe this little bird wants to take on the larger birds, like the doves in my garden…i was so interested in this bird, so i looked him up. There is a another small birds that is always with him, i take it it is the female…cause it also have a red beak, brown in color, but a shorter tail than the male. I live in a small town in the Western Cape, Oudtshoorn. In the Little Karoo. Do they usually lives in this areas or where is this bird usually located from? It is the first time that i saw this bird, are they common birds or are they a rare species?

    Reply
    • admin
      29 September 2013

      Hi Shirleen

      Thanks for stopping by. These little birds are really quite stroppy and would you believe it, they don’t even build their own nests, they are like cuckoos, they lay their eggs in other birds nests, like the common waxbill and the swee waxbill, but unlike cuckoos they do not eject the host eggs but hatch and grow up with them.

      They are common and are found almost everywhere throughout South Africa. The other bird you see with him with a red beak could be a female or a non-breeding male, they don’t get a long tail.

      It is so fascinating watching garden birds, you always find surprises.

      Enjoy and stop by again

      Reply
  2. Ian Shortreed
    20 November 2016

    We live in Randpark Ridge, Randburg. For the past two days, a very chirpy male pin-tailed whydah has taken over the window ledge just outside my study. He is incredible active, not only showing off (I assume) to the reflection of himself, but regularly flying off onto our boundary wall, coming back up flush against the window, eating seed that I put down onto one of our pot plant containers and then chasing almost every other bird away, e.g. weavers, sparrows, dices and even Cape robins. He seems to have enormous energy and determination, continuously carrying on like this from first thing in the morning to early evening. Lovely to watch and listen to as I work away on my computer. No sign however as yet of any females.

    Reply
  3. Ian Shortreed
    20 November 2016

    Typing error sorry – dices should be doves. The i & c are both immediately left of the o & v on the keyboard!!

    Reply
  4. Elize
    27 November 2016

    This is such a beautiful little bird. He came feeding with the doves and finches whilst they were all enjoying the wild bird seed. He was not aggressive at all that morning, in fact, he was quite weary of the doves. Perhaps he got a hammering some time before. He came a couple of times and I did not notice him again. This was during November. He was a real treat to see, he can return any time for a visit. Both times he was alone. If we take time, we can acknowledge ourselves or friends with the wildlife behaviour! Just ponder on that thought for a moment …. I am so grateful that we have a garden and to host breeding couples, i.e. the Bulbul and Cape Robin, as well as those just stopping over just for a day. Thanks for the info I think I am going to start following on Wildlife Den. Au revoir….

    Reply
    • admin
      27 November 2016

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences. We really have such wonderful wildlife in our country.

      Reply
  5. Lucille
    28 November 2016

    Hello.

    I always throw bird seeds in the garden and then watch the various types of birds that stop by.
    Whilst watching one day I wondered why these doves and the other orange and black birds would eat peacefully and suddenly fly up into the air randomly and start eating again. And this happened several times.
    So I watched closely.
    Then I noticed the pin-tailed whydah with it’s long tail just chasing the other birds.
    Then it would nibble at some seeds and then chase them again even though there was plenty for all. It would take on the pigeons too but they don’t budge much unlike the doves.

    A tiny cute bird with such an aggressive and possessive streak. I thought the Indian Myna was bad.

    Reply
  6. Nigel East
    1 December 2016

    This bird terrorises the rest of the birds in our garden for 5 months a year. Is there any way we can deter this bird from visiting our garden. We must have over 50 birds a day visit the feeders. It is just so wonderfull to watch them.
    Thank you
    Nigel East

    Reply
    • admin
      1 December 2016

      Thank you for visiting our Den, love having new visitors. This particular bird is a brood parasite, in other words it lays its eggs in other birds nests. The host bird then raises the Whydah as though it was its own. So you may in time have more of them in your garden. Unfortunately we have no idea as to how to chase them away as it seems you are giving them food every day too, so they loving their environment. :)

      Reply
  7. Karen Koch
    14 December 2016

    I spotted one of these in my garden this morning. Had no I idea what it was, except that I thought it looked like a black and sparrow with a long tail :) Thanks to Google and your site, I found out what it was! Lovely to look at, and I didn’t notice the threatening behaviour. Had I not had to come to work, I would have stayed watching him the whole day. Thanks for clearing up the mystery

    Reply
  8. Karla Cronjé
    4 February 2017

    Hi, we have the beautiful pintailed wydah in our garden, doing all that is explained in your article. What he does extra is flying up to our kitchen window and pecks it! We have two theories, either he sees his reflection and wants to show his dominance and the other is that he sees us and also wants to show his dominance. I personally think it is the second because resently he started the sam thing at my bedroom window. I am a student and for the last few weeks I’ve been home. I believe he started noticing my movement at window and literally every morning I am woken by hom pecking on my window.

    It is so interesting and amazing to notice it! But dare I say he is a damn obnoxious loud little bugger but I still like him! :)

    Reply
    • Karla Cronjé
      4 February 2017

      Few typing errors, but I am sure anyone who reads will understand ;)

      Reply
    • admin
      4 February 2017

      Hi Karla

      Thanks for visiting our site. You could be right about him noticing movement in the room. We also recently experienced the same behaviour with the common sparrows pecking at our windows so perhaps it is a type of domination aggression at breeding time?

      We also love these annoying loudmouths :)

      Reply

Leave a Reply