Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What did the bishop say to the widow?

"Look at me, look at me!" this bird practically screams with his get-up.
His vocals are a less appealing mix of raspy "churs." Southern Red Bishop
(Euplectes orix) (male) at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda.

Bishops and widowbirds are types of weavers, as mentioned in my most recent post. The males are brightly-colored birds; some male widowbirds have long tail feathers. Females are light brown and look very similar to each other, as was the case with the other weavers.

Male and female Southern Red Bishops. Notice how the female nearly
blends in. In non-breeding plumage, the male is very similar. Right now
at Agahozo, our male bishops are in non-breeding plumage; however,
from December through May, the red male is a very easy bird to find. 

All birds molt, which means their bodies replace damaged feathers with new ones. Some birds molt more than once a year. Bishops and widowbirds molt twice a year, which means after their breeding season is complete, they shed their brighter feathers and take on dull colors (which happens over time, not all at once). .
Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus) (male) at Murchison Falls
National Park, Uganda. Notice that on this bird the black on the head goes
higher and further back than the black on the face of the Southern
Red Bishop.  

The bright colors in the first place are used to attract mates. Once breeding is complete, they are advertising themselves to predators only. The more dull, the less likely you are to be spotted. Adaptations like these help birds to survive in a world full of predators like snakes, birds of prey, and even people

Yellow Bishop (Euplectes capensis) (male) at Agahozo-Shalom
Youth Village, Rwanda. This is a common bird at Agahozo,
but I have absolutely struggled to get a better picture. The back
is bright yellow, but this is obscured in this picture by his wings.

Enjoy the pictures!

White-winged Widowbird (Euplectes albonotatus) (male), east of Arusha,

Male white-winged widowbird in flight.
East of Arusha, Tanzania

Fan-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axillaris) (male) at Mabamba Swamp,

No comments:

Post a Comment