Georg Hofmeyr | Photography blog

wildlife – nature – travel

A hard working male

Pin-tailed Whydah - aerial display

So we had to go down to Stellenbosch for the second wedding in a month and this time around we stayed overnight  on a farm in the Wagenmakers (wainright) Valley, near Wellington, in the Boland area of the Western Cape.

Caption NIKON D800  f/8 1/200sec ISO-500 46mm

A sandy track at the end of a winding road brought us to Val du Charron (wheelright) a most lovely wine and olive farm with a splendid guesthouse.

Val du Charron Guesthouse NIKON D800  f/6.3 1/640sec ISO-360 150mm

Val du Charron Guesthouse NIKON D800 f/6.3 1/640sec ISO-360 150mm

Late afternoon I took my D800 and Sigma 150-600mm for a exploratory stroll through the vineyards. It was here where I encountered a male Pin-tailed Whydah, hard at work impressing the ladies - and I mean hard at work. Out of breeding season he can easily be overlooked as just another LBJ (little brown jobbie) but in his breeding finery he is unmistakable - small red beak, pure white rump with black back and wings and then off course the long, long black tail.

Pin-tailed Whydah mail perched in all his finery NIKON D800  f/8 1/2500sec ISO-1600 600mm

Pin-tailed Whydah mail perched in all his finery NIKON D800 f/8 1/2500sec ISO-1600 600mm

Not a bird that any female will easily overlook, but his looks are clearly not enough to do the trick. I first heard him singing his high pitched jerky song and then - wow - I saw him dance in the air - up and down he floats effortlessly almost like a carousel horse. He sails in the wind almost like a Seahorse in a current, up and down in an arc around the female, who watches him with interest - and this goes on and on - my arms ached trying to hold the 4Kg camera lens combination focused on this tiny 15g bird, but despite having to drag his 9 to 10 inch long tail around he hovers up and down for minutes on end - (Roberts says it can last up to 5 minutes!)

Enjoy the pics…


Pin-tailed Whydah - aerial displayPin-tailed Whydah - aerial displayPin-tailed Whydah - aerial displayPin-tailed Whydah - aerial display

14 responses to “A hard working male

  1. Helenmarie Koen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos and how you got to see this touching episode in a little bird’s life!! May you and yours enjoy a very blessed Christmas.

  2. Thank you , such a delight to see these images!

  3. Wilma Hunter says:

    Thank you so much. I have been admiring these long tailed birds from afar for years, never knowing the name. Would it be the same that is found in the North West around this time of the year?

  4. ..but what happened in the end? Did he drown his sorrows and treated his “dizziness” with a bottle of wine (since the vineyard was just there…); continued his “strictly..” dancing the next day on and on… or put a ring on his beautiful tail with the message: “Taken”!

  5. June du Toit says:

    We have them here on our farm at Cato Ridge in Natal as well and my late husband Henry was fascinated with one and he even called him Peter and it was with difficulty we had to persuade him that it was not always the same bird. He had become very attached to Peter and he became very tame and was almost eating out of Henry’s hand or so we were led to believe,LOL

  6. Anta van Zyl says:

    We feed the wild birds in our garden every afternoon. We have a male and two females coming to dine every day. The male dominates the feeding thet area, such a small bird but the heart of an eagle. Lovely to watch.

  7. Lorna Meyering says:

    What a delight! Thanks for sharing!

  8. We have a couple that frequent our yard in Hermanus and we spend hours watching them as they loop de loop through the yard – tree to tree and water outlets. Their continual conversation is most beautiful and to watch is indeed a treat.

  9. Audry golden says:

    This is absolutely stunning what a story and he is just too magnificent hope the ladies appreciated his efforts thanks for posting

  10. They lay their eggs in other peoples nests and this flamboyant male chases all other visitors to the bird table including large rock pigeons, he dive bombs them! Every year at this time Nov.Dec.Jan.
    Your photos are magnificent.

    • Meg holland says:

      Nicko, this is all so true… here in Treesbank, Kylalami AH we have a wonderful bird life, the bird tables are always full but lately for the past month we’ve had one of these little fellows and his mate take up residence. He dive bombs and objects to others staking a claim on the fruit and seed we supply. He has one major rival in a Red Cardinal who gets really furious puffing out his feathers and jumping up and down in fury at this gorgeous tiny rival! He is an endless source of amusement!

    • aundre schultz says:

      My grandchildren &I just love this little divebomber, even the guinyfowl run like hell.!! But most wierd is the little cinamon doves, they totaly ignore him, just lift up one wing like a lamborgini door and carry on eating. Most unusual response to see.

  11. Netti Botha says:

    Birds are so fascinating, I just love these pistures!! Thank you George.

  12. .

    This has to be the most BEAUTIFUL posting I have seen in a long time !

    YOUR coments are as pretious as our little friend’s dance !

    I live in the Langkloof … I have lotes of birds in my garden , but ALAS no beeing a real bird watcher
    I fust enjoy just sitting and observing …. Too lazy to drago my cameras Out of retirement !

    YOUR patinete and art is marvellous ! Thank YOU for sharing WITH us !

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