Monday, 13 August 2012

Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah

"Armchair tick" is a well-known term in birding circles, referring to a new species added to one's list as a result of a species being split by taxonomists into two species, or more generally to a bird identified well after the initial sighting.

The latter description applies in this case.  Browsing through bird books in the evening last week, I realised that I'd not seen Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah Vidua interjecta (yes, it is named thus because it looks like a flying exclamation mark!).  This species is very similar to the Eastern Paradise-Whydah Vidua paradisea, but lacks the clear cut golden-buff area on the hind-collar of that species.  The tail is also less tapering.  The females are subtly different as well.  V. paradisea parasitises Green-winged Pytilia and V. interjecta parasitises Red-winged Pytilia.  Since I have only seen Red-winged Pytilia east of the Nile, I concluded that some of the birds I'd seen on that side of the river might be Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs.  Sure enough, looking through my photos I found several of a pair of Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs.  The photos below show the differences between the two species.

Pair of Exclamatory Paradise-Whydahs, male showing chestnut nape with no well-defined golden-buff patch

Close up of female Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah showing head pattern lacking crescent markings behind eye

Male Eastern Paradise-Whydah in advanced moult into breeding plumage - note golden-buff nape absent in Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah

Full breeding plumage male Eastern Paradise-Whydah

Female Eastern Paradise-Whydah showing two dark crescents behind eye, absent in female Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah.

This experience serves to demonstrate the advantages of digital photography, enabling thousands of images to be taken and stored at no cost beyond the initial investment.

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