Long-tailed Widowbird

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The long-tailed widowbird (Euplectes progne), also known as the “Sakabula,” is a species of bird in the Ploceidae family.[2] The species are found in Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya,Lesotho, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and southern Zaire.[3] The long-tailed widowbird is a medium-sized bird and one of the most common in the territories it inhabits.[4] Adult breeding males are almost entirely black with orange and white shoulders (epaulets), long, wide tails, and a bluish white bill.[2] Females are rather inconspicuous, their feathers streaked tawny and black with pale patches on the chest, breast and back, narrow tail feathers, and horn-color bills.[2]

When flying, male long-tailed widowbirds are readily visible due to their extremely long tails. Between six and eight of their twelve tail feathers are approximately half a metre (approximately 20 inches) long. The tail during flight display is expanded vertically into a deep, long keel below the male as he flies with slow wingbeats 0.5 to 2 metres (20 to 78 inches) above his territory.

Because of the seemingly large cost to such male ornaments, the long-tailed widowbird has been the subject of extensive research into the function and evolution of sexually selected traits.[5] This research has demonstrated the existence of female choice in sexual selection and indicates the trade-offs between sexual appeal and physical constraints with regard to the evolution of sexual ornaments. source

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