Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is expected to experience a moderately rapid population decline during the next ten years, owing to the conversion and degradation of its grassland habitat. The species might qualify for a higher threat category if it is found that its population is undergoing at least a rapid population decline.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified, but it is described as locally common.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to undergo a decline in the future owing to habitat destruction and degradation.

Distribution and population

Euplectes jacksoni is a resident of the highlands of west and central Kenya and north-east Tanzania. It is locally common over much of its relatively small range, from Eldoret and Nandi east to Laikipia and Mt Kenya, and south to the Aberdares, Loita and Nguruman Hills, north Serengeti National Park, Loliondo and the Crater Highlands (Zimmerman et al. 1996). However, in a survey of the Kinangop Plateau, Kenya, it was recorded in only 14 out of 40 plots (Lens and Bennun 1996).


The species inhabits open grassland from 1,500-3,000 m (Lewis and Pomeroy 1989). It also feeds in agricultural land and is found in tall grassland in some areas. It breeds in drier grasslands than Long-tailed Widowbird E. progne, with which its range overlaps (Lewis and Pomeroy 1989). It feeds on grass seeds, particularly those of Themeda triandra and Panicum, as well as termite alates (Fry and Keith 2004). It is a polygynous and highly territorial species, where males gather at leks (Andersson 1989). The species's breeding sites are traditional, and may be used for a number of years. Breeding appears to take place throughout the year. Its nest, in which 2-4 eggs are laid, is a domed ball of woven grass with a side entrance, lined with grass seedheads, situated within 10 cm of the ground in a tuft of grass, with living grass bent down over it to form a bower. The incubation period is 12-13 days, followed by a fledging period of 17 days (Fry and Keith 2004).


This and other restricted-range species of the grasslands of the Kenyan highlands are threatened by destruction and fragmentation of montane grasslands, as a result of intensified agricultural development and livestock production (Lens et al. 1996). Fires, started by pastoralists to control ticks, are common in the dry season (between September and November), and temporarily destroy most suitable habitat (M. Msuha in litt. 1998). Montane grasslands are poorly covered by the protected area system in Kenya (Lens et al. 1996).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
In Tanzania, virtually all its habitat is protected, for example in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area (N. Baker in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to obtain an estimate of the total population size. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor the conversion and degradation of montane grasslands. In Kenya, increase the area of montane grasslands that are protected.


Text account compilers
Evans, M., Khwaja, N., O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.

Baker, N. & Msuha, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Euplectes jacksoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/07/2020.