All are obligate brood parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of estrildid finch species; most indigobirds use firefinches as hosts, whereas the paradise whydahs chose pytilias. Unlike the cuckoos and honeyguides, the indigobirds and whydahs do not destroy the host's eggs. Typically, they lay 2–4 eggs in with 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 "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. For example, the village indigobird is usually found with red-billed firefinches. 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 choose males with the same song, thus perpetuating the link between each species of indigobird and firefinch. 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 genetic and morphological similarities among species suggest that they are of recent origin.
The family contains two genera:
|Vidua Cuvier, 1816||
|Anomalospiza Shelley, 1901||
|Exclamatory paradise whydah (Vidua interjecta)|
The barka indigobird (Vidua larvaticola) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is found in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sudan, and South Sudan. It is also known as the baka indigobird but the spelling "barka" is more correct; the word is a greeting in the Hausa language.Broad-tailed paradise whydah
The broad-tailed paradise whydah (Vidua obtusa) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is found woodland and acacia savanna habitat in Sub-Saharan Africa from Angola to Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. A brood parasite, it has a wide range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed it as being of least concern.Cameroon indigobird
The Cameroon indigobird (Vidua camerunensis) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is considered by some authors to be a subspecies of the variable indigobird (Vidua funerea). They range from Sierra Leone to east Cameroon, north east Zaire and South Sudan.
There are less than 10,000 Vidua camerunensis in total, which range over 20,000 km2 in the savannah and grasslands of South Africa. The birds have a distinct blue color with underlying brown feathers and a small white beak to crack nuts and seeds. There are many indigobird species in the world, and they are mainly known for their song mimicry. The different species of indigobirds are not morphologically different, but they do differ in the songs they choose to mimic.Cuckoo-finch
The cuckoo-finch (Anomalospiza imberbis), also known as the parasitic weaver or cuckoo weaver, is a small passerine bird now placed in the family Viduidae with the indigobirds and whydahs. It occurs in grassland in Africa south of the Sahara. The male is mainly yellow and green while the female is buff with dark streaks. The eggs are laid in the nests of other birds.Dusky indigobird
The name dusky indigobird can also refer to Vidua purpurascens.
The dusky indigobird, variable indigobird, or black widowfinch (Vidua funerea) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is found in Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitat is moist savanna.Exclamatory paradise whydah
The exclamatory paradise whydah or Uelle paradise whydah (Vidua interjecta) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is also known as the long-tailed paradise whydah, a name which can refer to Vidua paradisaea.
It is found in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, and Togo.Jambandu indigobird
The Jambandu indigobird (Vidua raricola) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is also known as the goldbreast indigobird.
It is found in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Togo. Its habitat is savannah and brush.
Different authorities assign this species to various families. Peters assigns it to Ploceidae (Viduinae) whereas Sibley-Monroe assigns it to Passeridae (Estrildinae, Viduini) while Gill (2nd Ed.) places it in Estrildidae.Jos Plateau indigobird
The Jos Plateau indigobird (Vidua maryae) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is endemic to Nigeria. It lays its eggs in the nest of the rock firefinch which is also restricted to Nigeria. Because of their inability to incubate their eggs, they lay their eggs in the nest of the rock firefinch and then take away the exact number of laid eggs from the host bird in order to avoid suspicion from the host bird . After hatching they exhibit dominance against the hatchlings of the rock firefinchers. Their breeding seasons are all round the year but more pronounced during the cold Harmattan period between July and December.
Its natural habitats are dry woodland and shrubland in rocky areas. It is threatened by habitat loss.Maxwell's black weaver
The Maxwell's black weaver (Ploceus albinucha) is a species of bird in the Ploceidae family.Purple indigobird
The purple indigobird (Vidua purpurascens) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is also known as the dusky indigobird, a name which can refer to Vidua funerea. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitat is dry savanna.Steel-blue whydah
The steel-blue whydah (Vidua hypocherina) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae.
It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Its natural habitat is dry savanna.Straw-tailed whydah
The straw-tailed whydah (Vidua fischeri) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae.
It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Its natural habitat is dry savanna. Like all other whydah species, the straw-tailed whydah is a brood parasite.Togo paradise whydah
The Togo paradise whydah (Vidua togoensis) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae.
It is found in Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Togo.Village indigobird
The village indigobird or steelblue widowfinch (Vidua chalybeata) is a small songbird belonging to the family Viduidae. It is distinguishable from other indigobird species by bill and leg colours, the colour tinge of the male's breeding plumage, song, and to lesser extent, the nestling's plumage and mouth pattern. The bill colour can be red or white depending on the population, and there is some regional variation in the colour tone of the male's plumage.Wilson's indigobird
Wilson's indigobird or pale-winged indigobird (Vidua wilsoni) is a species of bird in the family Viduidae. It is found in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan, and Togo.Yellow-mantled widowbird
The yellow-mantled widowbird (Euplectes macroura), also known as the yellow-backed widow, is a species of bird in the family Ploceidae. It is the type species of the genus Euplectes, originally named for the city of Ouidah in Benin. Nowadays the name whydah (from "Ouidah") is however applied to some species in the Viduidae.Zambezi indigobird
The Zambezi indigobird (Vidua codringtoni), also known as the twinspot indigobird or green indigobird, is a species of bird in the Viduidae family. It is found in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
It appears on Zambia's new 5 ngwee coin.