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Bird Goes the Extra Mile to Attract a Mate

This is a male specimen of Jackson’s widowbird (Euplectes jacksoni), native to Kenya and Tanzania. Both the male and female are a dull brown color, except during mating season. That’s when the male grows a glossy coat of black feathers, and a ridiculously long tail. At Atlas Obscura, you can see a gif showing how hard it is to fly with that tail. But what this bird wants to do is hop!

In addition to primping up their appearance, the rest of the Jackson’s widowbirds’ mating ritual is quite elaborate. A male widowbird will create a little stage for his dancing performance by clipping down the tall grass to form a three-foot-wide circle and defend the territory from other males. He’ll leave a small patch of grass in the center of the circle as a platform where he will proceed to hop up and down. You can see the widowbird in the video jumping up repeatedly to show off the length of his tail while singing a soft call to lure females.

(YouTube link)

Now, what lady widowbird could resist such a performance?  

(Image credit: Francesco Veronesi)


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