Male long-tailed widowbirds wear a long, black cloak of tail feathers
These magnificent African birds show off their extremely long tail feathers by flying from dusk to dawn over their territory
Found in the grasslands of the African savannah, the male long-tailed widowbird undergoes a wonderful transformation to attract a mate. When the young males mature into breeding adults their colouring changes from brown to black with vibrant red-orange and white shoulder details. Six to eight of their 12 tail feathers will also grow up to 50 centimetres (19.8 inches) in length, and research has proven that females prefer males with longer tails.
While other birds perform energetic courtship displays, the long-tailed widowbird demonstrates its beauty and stamina by flying. From sunrise to sunset during the breeding season, the male flies slowly over his territory, draping his magnificent feathers like a cloak below him and chasing off other males.
As well as flying displays, long-tailed widowbirds also perform static displays. The bird arches his wings in order to show off his elaborate colouring and creates a hood shape with his feathers while using vocal calls to attract the attention of females in the vicinity.
Long-tailed widowbirds are unable to perform their flying displays when it is wet due to the length of their tail feathers