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Euplectes albonotatus (White-winged widowbird, White-winged widow) 

Witvlerkflap [Afrikaans]; iNtakansinsi [Zulu]; Enzunge (applied to some of the bishops, widows and sparrows) [Kwangali]; Spiegelwidavink [Dutch]; Euplecte à épaules blanches [French]; Spiegelwida [German]; Viúva-d'asa-branca [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Ploceidae > Genus: Euplectes

Euplectes albonotatus (White-winged widowbird, White-winged widow) Euplectes albonotatus (White-winged widowbird, White-winged widow) 
White-winged widowbird male. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] White-winged widowbird female. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Euplectes albonotatus (White-winged widowbird, White-winged widow)  Euplectes albonotatus (White-winged widowbird, White-winged widow) 

White-winged widowbird male. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

White-winged widowbird female. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Although it has localised populations in Sudan, Ethiopia and Angola, it mainly occurs from Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa, extending into the Caprivi Strip (Namibia) and Botswana. It generally prefers habitats with rank vegetation and water, such as moist grassland and marshes, but also in disturbed areas and cultivated land.

Distribution of White-winged widowbird in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

It in various forms has been recorded as prey of the following animals:

  • Adults
  • Newly-hatched chicks and eggs
    • Praomys natalensis (Multimammate mouse)

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Diderick cuckoo.


It mainly eats the seeds of grasses, supplemented with nectar and insects. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • grass seeds
      • Bracharia brizantha (Common signal grass)
      • Chloris virgata (Feathered chloris)
      • Melinis repens (Natal reftop)
      • Rottboellia cochinchinensis (Guinefowl grass)
      • Setaria sphacelata (Twisted-leaf bristle grass)
      • Uruchloa mossambicensis (Bushveld signal grass)
      • Hyparrhenia
      • Pennisetum
    • nectar of Aloe marlothii (Mountain aloe)
  • Insects


  • Polygynous, territorial solitary nester, as one male may mate with up to 4 females in a breeding season, defending his territory against other males as well as other widowbird and bishop species.
  • The nest is built solely by the male, consisting of an oval-shaped structure with a large side-top entrance, built of dry grass and lined by the female with finer grass. It is typically placed about 0.3-1.3 metres above ground in dense grass, which is incorporated into the roof of the nest.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-May, peaking from December-March.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-14 days.
  • The chicks are only fed by the female, leaving the nest after about 11-14 days and becoming independent about 22-25 days later.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.