The breeding male is buff, chestnut, and black with a 21-centimeter tail that is laterally flattened with both short bulging feathers and long, tapering dagger-like feathers. The female and non-breeding male have a strongly contrasting black-and-white head, including a characteristic dark bill and a double “C” pattern under the ear. The males aggressively hold territories, but small groups forage together in dry and moist savanna. After breeding, they flock with other seedeaters. This whydah gives dry chip calls and imitates the calls of the Green-winged Pytilia, which it parasitizes. The Broad-tailed Paradise-Whydah differs from the Eastern Paradise-Whydah as follows: the breeding male has a shorter broader tail; the non-breeding male and female have a paler bill and a plainer facial pattern.