Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An oscine passerine bird of Africa, belonging to the family Ploceidæ, or weaver-birds, and subfamily Viduinæ in a strict sense, and especially to the genus Vidua, or one of two or three closely related genera. They are small-bodied birds, about as large as a canary; but the males have several feathers of the tail enormously lengthened and variously shaped, forming a beautiful arched train. Any one of them is also called whidah-finch, vidafinch, widow-bird, and simply whidah or widow, as well as by the French name veuve. The original whidah-bird, or widow of paradise, is Vidua (or Steganura) paradisea, described and figured under Viduinæ (which see). The king whidahbird is Videstrelda regia (see
Videstrelda, with cut). The principal whidah-bird is Vidua principalis (see Vidua, with cut). The South African necklaced whidah-bird is Coliuspasser or Penthetria ardens, the male of which is 12 inches long, with a tail of 8½, and has the plumage nearly uniform black, normally varied with a scarlet (sometimes orange) necklace or color on the fore-neck. The female is quite different, and only 4¾ inches long. The bird has been know for more than a century, and has acquired an extensive and intricate synonymy, chiefly of worthless New Latin names. The other whidah here figured is also South African, and has in the male a train of several long tailfeathers resembling in development and in general effect the upper tail-coverts of the paradisetrogon; it is also very large, the male being about 19 inches long. This is Chera procne, the epaulet whidah, so called from the scarlet shoulders, in translation of a French name. Its original technical name was Emberiza procne (of Boddaert, 1783, whence Chera procne of most modern writers), and it used to be called Emberizaor Fringilla or Vidua longicauda, and Loxia or Fringilla or Chera caffra; but it is a monotype whose synonymy presents no serious difficulty. It inhabits from Cape Colony to Natal and the Transvaal, and also to Bengucla. Other whidah-birds are noted under Viduinæ (which see).
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