These are finch-like species which usually have black or indigo predominating in their plumage. The birds named as "whydahs" have long or very long tails.
All are brood parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of estrildid finch species; most indigobirds use fire-finches as hosts, whereas the paradise whydahs chose pytilias.
Unlike the cuckoo, the host's eggs are not destroyed. Typically, 2-4 eggs are laid in with the those already present. The eggs of both the host and the victim are white, although the indigobird's are slightly larger.
Many of the indigo-plumaged species named as "indigobirds" are very similar in appearance, with the males difficult to separate in the field, and the young and females near impossible. The best guide is often the estrildid finch with which they are associating, since each indigobird parasitises a different host species. Thus the Village Indigobird is usually found with Red-billed Fire-finches.
Indigobirds and whydahs imitate their host's song, which the males learn in the nest. Although females do not sing, they also learn to recognise the song, and chose males with the same song, thus perpetuating the link between each species of indigobird and firefinch.
Similarly, the nestling indigobirds mimic the unique gape pattern of the fledglings of the host species.
The matching with the host is the driving force behind speciation in this family, but the close gemetic and morphological similarities among species suggest that they are of recent origin.
- Family: Viduidae
- Village Indigobird, Vidua chalybeata
- Jambandu Indigobird, Vidua raricola
- Baka Indigobird, Vidua larvaticola
- Jos Plateau Indigobird, Vidua maryae
- Quailfinch Indigobird, Vidua nigeriae
- Variable Indigobird, Vidua funerea
- Green Indigobird, Vidua codringtoni
- Purple Indigobird, Vidua purpurascens
- Pale-winged Indigobird, Vidua wilsoni
- Cameroon Indigobird, Vidua camerunensis
- Steel-blue Whydah, Vidua hypocherina
- Straw-tailed Whydah, Vidua fischeri
- Shaft-tailed Whydah, Vidua regia
- Pin-tailed Whydah, Vidua macroura
- Togo Paradise Whydah, Vidua togoensis
- Long-tailed Paradise Whydah, Vidua interjecta
- Eastern Paradise Whydah, Vidua paradisaea
- Northern Paradise Whydah, Vidua orientalis
- Broad-tailed Paradise Whydah, Vidua obtusa
- Indigobird videos on the Internet Bird Collection