Distinctive Beauty: The Bird With Long Silky Tail, Pale Blue, and Luminous Yellow Palette

A very long silky tail and prominent crest coupled with an outstanding color combination all combine to create one very unique bird.

Meet the Long-tailed silky-flycatcher


Photo Courtesy of Chris Jimenez/CC BY-SA 2.0

The long-tailed silky-flycatcher (Ptiliogonys caudatus) is 24 cm long with a pale grey forehead. It is a thrush-sized species weighing in at around 37 grams. The rest of the crested head, neck, throat, and lower belly are yellow. The back, lower breast, and upper belly are blue-grey, and the flight feathers and long pointed tail are black. The outer tail feathers are spotted with white.


Photo Courtesy of Melissa McMasters/CC BY 2.0

The female is smaller than the male, being 21 cm long and generally duller than the male, with a darker grey forehead, olive body plumage, and a shorter, slightly duller black tail.

Juvenile birds are similar to their adult counterparts, but the central tail feathers are shorter and the white spotting on the outer tail is not as distinct.

Photo Courtesy of gailhampshire/CC BY 2.0

These birds can only be found in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama, usually from 1,850 m altitude to the timberline.

The Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher likes to frequent mountain forests, secondary forests, and pastures bordered by wooded ravines.

They forage in small flocks when not breeding, sallying out on the wing for insects or taking small fruits, especially mistletoe.

The breeding season runs from April through to June when the Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher may nest solitary or in small groups of up to five pairs. During this time they build a bulky, open cup-shaped nest made primarily with lichen. These birds add caterpillar silk or spider web to maintain the plant materials. The nest itself is usually built in the fork of tree or on top of the main stem of a tall tree or shrub amongst dense foliage. Both birds will share the nest-building, however during this time the male will feed the female. She then lays to eggs within the nest and incubates them for around 16 to 17 days, still being fed by her mate. After they hatch the chicks are fed by both parents and leave the nest after 24 – 25 days.

This bird is described as “common” but the small population is suspected to be declining, due to the destruction of the habitat through burning, logging, and agriculture expansion.

Photo Courtesy of Rolf Riethof/Public domain

You can watch this bird right here on the video below: