Dressed for effect

This is breeding season for many birds in the Luangwa valley. In some species, the males have the most astonishing change in plumage at this time of year.  The Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix) is a nondescript brown most of the year, and the poor female remains drab all year long. But look at him now:

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These small birds (14cm long) hop around in the longest new grasses, often near water:

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and weave delicate basket-like nests:

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It amuses me that brilliant scarlet birds often seem to be named after similarly robed clerics or soldiers: Red Bishop, Northern Cardinal, Military Macaw.

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