Jackson’s widowbird is a lek-breeding bird, engaging in a system of breeding in which the males display communally, competing to attract a female with which to mate, and then take no part in caring for the eggs or chicks (3). They are polygynous birds and thus males mate with more than one female (3). To attract females, males establish “dancing grounds” in suitable grassland areas. By nipping off and treading down grass, the males create a defined circular smoothly-beaten track, about one metre across. A single tuft of grass is left in the centre in which the male forms two cup-shaped recesses on opposite sides by making short runs at the tuft with a lowered head. On the appearance of a female, the male faces the tuft of grass and begins his peculiar dance. Throwing his head back and arching his tail feathers, the male makes repeated jumps, up to one metre high, accompanied by a soft tinkling call (3) (6). The choosy females pick a mating partner based on the length of his tail and the rate of the jump display (3).
Female Jackson’s widowbirds visit the males’ dance rings solely for mating and undertake all nest duties on their own. The nest is a woven ball of grass built near the ground or in a dense tuft a little way above the ground (3).