June 2022

Love in the Long Grass

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Love in the Long Grass

Love in the Long Grass

The Jackson’s widowbird is an incredibly striking individual, especially when the males are in breeding plumage and are seen dancing in the tall grass, doing their very best to impress the females. The name “widowbird” comes from the lovely, long, dark tail plumage that somewhat resembles a funeral veil.

The Jackson’s widowbird is found only in Kenya and Tanzania. Its favoured habitat is subtropical highland grasslands. Where the grass species are to their liking you may be lucky enough to see them breeding.

The male is a phenomenal showman, he chooses his spot well, this is known as the bird’s “arena” or “lek”. This is his stage essentially and where he will perform his displays. These displays include jumping up and down like Maasai warriors doing their very best to out jump each other! The birds also make lovely short flights in circles, showing off their beautiful tail feathers. A real sight to see when there are many flying together over the golden grasses.

This season we have been fortunate to have the perfect conditions for many of these breeding beauties, very close to Sabora Tented Camp, and it is so worth taking the time to watch the dancing festivities.

Gadmel S. Kimaro
By Gadmel S. Kimaro
Field Guide