Red shouldered Whydah
PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

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. red shouldered whydah
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  • Scientific Name: Euplectes axillaris
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin: 7
  • Origin / Distribution: More than half of the continent of Africa.
  • Habitat In Wild: Diverse. Mostly savannah/grasslands and reed beds.
  • Status In Wild: ?
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity: Rare
  • Age To Sexual Maturity: About 12 months.
  • Adult plumage: attained at about  24 months
  • Best breeding years (estimate): 24 months - 10th year.
  • Lifespan (estimate): approx. 12 or more years
  • Sexing: Monomorphic / Dimorphic (Dimorphic in breeding season but otherwise monomorphic)
  • Mutations: None
  • Availability: Specialist breeders
  • Temperament: Require a planted aviary.  Can be aggressive to smaller finches in a mixed species collection.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $1500
  • Description Of Adults:
  1. Length: Cock bird Up to 225 mm (or approx. 9 inches), Hens approx. 160 mm (or about  5.5 inches)
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight: Cock birds Approx. 21 - 23 gms (or approx. 2/3 oz) with hens a bit less.

The nuptial plumage cock bird 's tail is about twice the bird's body length and takes about 3 weeks to grow after the moult.

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws: Refer to "Government Laws" web page.

Housing Requirements: Click on "Housing birds" web page for full details on the housing of Weavers & Whydahs or read on for specific details for this finch.

These Whydahs are not suitable for housing in cages.  They require a large well planted aviary for best results.  Tall growing grasses and dense shrubs are ideal in the aviary.  With numbers of good breeding pairs fairly low, the owner should be prepared to allowing only one cock bird pair per aviary with one or more hens and have no other species of birds in that aviary.  This also removes the risk of aggression to other smaller finches or to any other weavers or whydahs.

Diet / Feeding: Click on "Weavers & Whydahs" web page for full details on the nutrition of Weavers & Whydahs or read on for specific details for this finch.

Weavers and whydahs are seed eaters that require significant quantities of live food to raise their young.  Live food is essential at breeding season.  A variety of insects gives best results e.g. mealworms, crickets, small grass hoppers, small cockroaches, termites, moths etc.

Good quality finch mix, seeding grasses and some fruits (e.g. apple) and some green leafy vegetables can be offered.  Sprouted seed if available.

Basic seed mix should include Canary seed, White French Millet, Japanese Millet, and Yellow and Red Panicum.

Nesting: A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest: Yes / No
  • Nesting months:  Spring to early autumn.  Determined by the time it takes for the cock bird to achieve a full nuptial plumage.
  • Nesting receptacles:  Nests will be built in tall growing grasses or in growing shrubs close to the ground.  Will also use dry brush but rarely use artificial nests.
  • Nesting materials:  The cock bird will weave a dome shaped nest in a low shrub, dried brush or tall growing grass.  The nest is made from finely stripped green grasses and palm fronds.  If the hen accepts the nest she will then line the nest with soft grasses or other soft materials including feathers. 
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

The cock bird nips through part of the stem then flies away stripping a ribbon of fresh green material for the construction of the nest.  The cock bird may partially build several nests before the hen approves that nest and shows her approval and lines the nest.

First year cock birds must have access to the full range of nest materials as they will practise nest making.

The nest is kept clean by the hen removing the faeces sac of the young.  Parent birds generally reuse the nest for subsequent clutches.  Adequate new nest material must be available for the birds to refurbish the old nest or build a new nest for the next clutch.

Breeding: Egg Colour  Green.  Clutch/s per year  2 - 3.  Eggs per nest  usually 3.  Incubation  approx.  12 - 14 days.  Fledge approx. 14 days.  Independent approx. another 3 - 4 weeks.

The hen should be allowed to fully mature before being allowed to breed.  This will take about two years.  Hens have potentially about 10 years of breeding ahead of them so allowing them to fully mature prior to attempting breeding will usually ensure they remain fitter and healthier and have less breeding problems.  Cock birds generally do not mate till they have fully coloured up.

The younger cock birds take longer to colour up and may start their breeding season later than older more mature cock birds.

The cock bird does not take part in the incubation of the eggs or rearing of the young.

A cock bird will pair up with two or more hens.  If one cock bird is paired up with one hen, many people will remove the cock bird so the hen is not distracted from her job of rearing the young birds.  If the cock bird is paired up with multiple hens his attentions to the hens is diluted and less likely to disrupt a particular hen.

They are particularly fond of seeding grasses while feeding young.

Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.  Refer "Specific References" as listed below and "General References" listings.

Health Issues: Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new bird/s or sick bird/s are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page option.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Specific References:

  • Australian Aviculture
  • A/A Vol  36  No. 3  Mar  1982  Page 62-64
  • A/A Vol 6 No 4 Apr 1952 Page 44-46.
  • A/A Vol 5 No 12 Dec 1951 Page 140-142.
  • Australian Birdkeeper
  • ABK Vol 15 Issue 1 .Feb-Mar  2002  Page 43-45.
  • ABK Vol  8 Issue 10. Aug-Sept  1995  Page 479-481
  • ABK Vol  4  Issue 7.  Feb-Mar 1991  Page 305-308 

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