Family Whydahs and Indigobirds (Viduidae)

Least Concern

Sahel Paradise-whydah (Vidua orientalis)


French: Veuve à collier d’or German: Senegalwitwe Spanish: Viuda del Sahel

Vidua paradisea [sic] orientalis


, 1870,

Keren, Anseba, Eritrea


See V. paradisaea. Present species has sometimes been treated as conspecific with V. paradisaea alone, and specimens in tattered plumage from E Sudan and Eritrea suggest interbreeding between the two; molecular data#R, however, indicate that it is sister to V. interjecta. In Sudan, proposed races kudugliensis (described from Kadugli, in S Kordofan) and nilotica (from c. 16 km above Abu Zor, in Blue Nile) are synonyms of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. o. aucupum (Neumann, 1908) – S Mauritania, Senegal, N Gambia and S Mali E to S Niger and N Nigeria.
  • V. o. orientalis Heuglin, 1870 – N Cameroon, S Chad, N Central African Republic, SC Sudan, N South Sudan, N Eritrea and NW Ethiopia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm, breeding male 30–31 cm; 15–27 g. Male nominate race breeding has black head, pale straw-coloured nape, black upperparts, black throat, brownish-... read more


    Mimics songs and calls of its host, Melba Finch (Pytilia melba). In W Africa songs of host... read more


    Grassy Sahel acacia (Acacia) savanna and woodland with scattered shrubs and open ground,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small grass seeds, taken from ground and from termite (Isoptera) mounds. Forages on ground, alone or in small groups.


    Season Jul–Dec in Senegal, Nigeria and Sudan, fledged young fed by adult hosts in Jan in Gambia, and males in breeding plumage Dec... read more


    No information; flocks of non-breeding individuals and flocks of birds in partial breeding plumage... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Probably not globally threatened. Fairly uncommon. Density in SE Niger in Sept 1·1 birds/km2 in one year, 0·3 in another year.

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Sahel Paradise-whydah (Vidua orientalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 May 2019).