16 Birds With Long Tails (Long-Tailed Birds)

Birds with long tails in the wild

Long-tailed birds are remarkable for their extended tail feathers, which set them apart in the avian world. However, note that they are not just pretty to look at — these long tails actually serve many purposes.

In some cases, the tails are used to attract mates or as a way to scare off predators. In others, they help with balance and speed. But most importantly, tail feathers provide stability and maneuverability during flight.

In this article, we will be taking a look at 16 different types of birds with long tails. We will discuss them in detail, including their diet, habitat, typical behavior, physical characteristics, and more. Let’s get started!

16 Birds With Long Tails

1. Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher
Scientific Name:Tyrannus forficatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:10–15 in (25.4–38.1 cm)
Weight:1.3–2 oz (36.9–56.7 g)
Wingspan:14.2–15.5 in (36–39 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Unique Features:Pink-colored legs, long, forked tail feathers

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a striking avian commonly found across North America. These birds’ most notable feature is their long, scissor-like tail, which can extend up to nine inches.

Generally, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers thrive in open spaces such as grasslands and farmlands, often near scattered trees or isolated groves. This means they are adaptable and can be seen in various locations.

Diet-wise, they primarily feast on moths, grasshoppers, bees, beetles, wasps, flies, caterpillars, and even spiders.

Fun Fact: During the mating season, male Scissor-tailed Flycatchers perform an elaborate display, opening and closing their extended tails like scissors.

2. Red-Billed Streamertail

Red Billed Streamertail
Scientific Name:Trochilus polytmus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.9–11.8 in (20–30 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (4.5–6 g)
Wingspan:Up to 6.5 in (16.5 cm)
Unique Features:Scissor-like tails, iridescent green body, red-tinted bill

Native to Jamaica, the Red-billed Streamertail is known for its forked-tail feathers that range from 3.9 to 5.1 inches. They are further distinguished by their iridescent green bodies and striking red-pigmented beaks.

In terms of behavior, these birds are highly territorial, especially regarding their feeding areas. They exhibit bold behavior, fearlessly chasing away intruders to protect their territory.

Basically, this assertiveness is a key aspect of their demeanor, crucial for their survival and dominance in their habitat.

Fun Fact: Did you know that male Red-billed Streamertails have longer tails than females? This is the result of sexual selection, where the males’ elongated tails play a vital role in attracting mates.

3. Taiwan Blue Magpie

Taiwan Blue Magpie
Scientific Name:Urocissa caerulea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:25–27 in (63.5–68.6 cm)
Weight:9–9.2 oz (255.1–260.8 g)
Wingspan:7.1–8.3 in (18–21 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 9 years
Unique Features:Long tails, vibrant blue coloration, yellow eyes, black crown

Indigenous to Taiwan, the Taiwan Blue Magpie is renowned for its impressively long tail, which measures between 13 and 17 inches.

In addition, they flaunt an overall vibrant blue coloration, yellow eyes, and a distinctive black crown. They even possess coral-red shanks, feet, and bills, making them one of the most colorful members of their family.

Not only that, but these birds exhibit a unique temperament; they are known for being approachable.

Last summer, a colleague visited Taiwan specifically to see Taiwan Blue Magpies. He found these birds remarkably unafraid of humans and was able to observe them closely in their natural setting.

Yet, he said the thing he remembers most about them was their loud call. He described it as a “kyak-kyak-kyak” sound, which echoed through the forest and made them easy to locate from a distance.

4. Common/Ring-Necked Pheasant

Ring Necked Pheasant
Scientific Name:Phasianus colchicus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:23–35 in (58.4–88.9 cm)
Weight:1.7–3 lbs (0.8–1.4 kg)
Wingspan:22–33.9 in (56–86 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 18 years
Unique Features:Long tail feathers, white collar, a mix of gold, brown, green, purple, and white body feathers

Also known as the Common Pheasant, the Ring-necked Pheasant is another species with a long tail. Specifically, these birds’ tail feathers can measure up to eight inches long.

Yet, note that they are also noted for their striking mix of gold, brown, green, purple, and white body feathers, along with a distinctive white collar. They belong to those birds characterized by their red heads, too.

Interestingly, Ring-necked Pheasants have a unique daily routine, especially during winter. A study highlighted that these birds typically feed in open areas in the morning.

Then, as the day progresses, they retreat into dense cover for safety and warmth. By late afternoon, they venture out from their cover into semi-open areas to feed again.

This pattern of activity and feeding reflects their adaptation to changing environmental conditions and their instinct for survival.

5. Long-Tailed Widowbird

Long Tailed Widowbird
Scientific Name:Euplectes progne
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:5.9–28 in (15–71 cm)
Weight:0.9–1.6 oz (25–46 g)
Wingspan:5–5.8 in (12.7–14.7 cm)
Unique Features:Elongated tail feathers, orange-red wing shoulders, bluish-white beak

Originating from Africa, the Long-tailed Widowbird is famous for its exceptionally elongated tail, which can extend over half a meter or 20 inches long.

These birds also sport orange-red shoulders and a bluish-white beak, contributing to their distinct appearance.

Watch this video of a Long-tailed Widowbird extending its tail well beyond the length of its body:

Long-tailed Widowbird in Kenya.

With regard to habitat, Long-tailed Widowbirds are usually found in swampy grasslands, where they form flocks consisting of one or two males and several females. This social structure is typical of their species.

Additionally, the breeding habits of these birds are relatively simple. They lay 1 to 4 eggs at one-day intervals. The eggs are then incubated solely by the female for about 12 to 14 days.

Fun Fact: Outside their breeding season, male Long-tailed Widowbirds lose their long tails. Plus, their plumage becomes streaky and brown, looking like females.

6. Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia

Ribbon Tailed Astrapia
Image credit: stevenbrumby / Instagram
Scientific Name:Astrapia mayeri
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:7.9–15 in (20–38 cm)
Weight:4.7–5.8 oz (134–164 g)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years
Unique Features:Long, white-pigmented tails, iridescent green head, glossy black plumage

A native of Papua New Guinea, the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia is often regarded as the bird with the longest tail. In particular, their tail can stretch up to three feet and is notable for its ribbon-like appearance.

In addition, these birds are recognized for their iridescent green head and throat, along with their glossy purplish-black plumage.

Concerning habitat, Ribbon-tailed Astrapias are typically found in mossy forests. They particularly favor forest edges at high elevations and are rarely seen below 2,450 meters.

As far as diet is concerned, these avians love nothing more than feasting on fruits, insects, spiders, and frogs.

Fun Fact: While the extended tail of male Ribbon-tailed Astrapias is attractive to females, it can also be troublesome. They sometimes even have to stop and untangle their tail feathers before taking flight.

7. White-Tailed Tropicbird

White Tailed Tropicbird
Scientific Name:Phaethon lepturus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:27–29 in (68.6–73.7 cm)
Weight:7.8–14.6 oz (220–410 g)
Wingspan:35–37.8 in (89–96 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Unique Features:Long, white tail streamers, yellow-colored beak, black marks around eyes

Often mistaken for the Bermuda Petrel, the White-tailed Tropicbird boasts an impressive total length of approximately 29 inches — a measurement that gracefully incorporates its elegant tail.

Note, though, that these birds are distinguished not only by such a feature but also by their yellow beaks and the distinctive black markings on their eyes, wings, and tail bases.

In terms of foraging habits, White-tailed Tropicbirds primarily feed on flying fish, crabs, and squids. They employ a plunge-diving technique and are capable of diving up to 20 meters deep.

As far as range goes, these birds predominantly call the scenic Kaua’i island in Hawai’i their home, where they are known within the community as Koa’e Kea.

Fun Fact: During the mating season, groups of up to 20 White-tailed Tropicbird pairs perform large, vertical circles and patterns in the air, swinging their tail streamers side to side.

8. Speckled Mousebird

Speckled Mousebird
Scientific Name:Colius striatus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:11.8–14.2 in (30–36 cm)
Weight:1.1–2.1 oz (31.2–59.5 g)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Unique Features:Distinctly long tails, reversible outer toes, spiky crest

Named for its mouse-like feathers, the Speckled Mousebird is a striking avian species with a tail length ranging from 7 to 9.5 inches.

Other notable physical features of these birds include reversible outer toes, a spiky crest, and a beak that incorporates black and pink shades.

When it comes to social behavior, Speckled Mousebirds are highly companionable. They are often seen in flocks of up to 15, engaging in activities like foraging, preening, and dust-bathing.

Beyond that, these birds are categorized as frugivores. So, you can expect that they mostly feed on fruits, berries, leaves, seeds, and nectar.

Fun Fact: One of the standout traits of this species is the softness of their feathering, which makes them prone to tail damage. Yet, despite this vulnerability, their unique tail remains a remarkable part of their identity.

9. Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo

Greater Racket Tailed Drongo
Scientific Name:Dicrurus paradiseus
Length:13–14 in (33–35.5 cm)
Weight:2.5–4.4 oz (70–125 g)
Wingspan:11.8–17.7 in (30–45 cm)
Unique Features:Long tails with twirled rackets, reddish-brown eyes, glossy neck, crest that curves backward

Up next is the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. These birds’ most striking characteristic is their long tail with twirled rackets at the end.

Additionally, they possess reddish-brown eyes, a glossy neck, and a crest that curves backward, each contributing substantially to their overall majestic appearance.

During the breeding season, which spans from April to August, Greater Racket-tailed Drongos put on an amazing courtship display.

In particular, their tactics include branch hopping and spinning, along with dropping and catching things mid-air.

Regarding habitat, these birds prefer woodlands and forests, where they are often found in mixed flocks. As a matter of fact, they commonly associate with other drongos, treepies, and even babblers.

10. Princess Parrot

Princess Parrot
Scientific Name:Polytelis alexandrae
Conservation Status:Near-Threatened
Length:15.7–17.7 in (40–45 cm)
Weight:3.2–4.2 oz (90–120 g)
Wingspan:6.1–6.4 in (15.5–16.2 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 30 years
Unique Features:Long tail feathers, pink throat, lilac head, coral beak, orange eyes

Endemic to Australia’s arid regions, the Princess Parrot is another bird that is famous for its extended tail. To be specific, their tail feathers measure around 11 inches long.

Furthermore, these birds stand out with their pink throats, lilac-pigmented heads, coral beaks, and orange eyes, all of which make them a visually striking species.

Princess Parrots are also famous for their gentle nature. They make good pets, often showing signs of affection, and are known for their playful and chatty demeanor.

Yet, it should be noted that their population is currently facing challenges; they are listed as “Near-Threatened” by the IUCN. A 2013 study indicated that high-intensity fires significantly impact their numbers.

In response to this threat, annual monitoring of the population has been implemented since the last major fire, highlighting efforts to conserve this beautiful bird species.

11. Greater Bird-Of-Paradise

Greater Bird Of Paradise
Scientific Name:Paradisaea apoda
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:14–17 in (35.6–43.2 cm)
Weight:5.9–6.1 oz (170–173 g)
Lifespan:Up to 8 years
Unique Features:Long twin tail wires, evident sexual dimorphism, long flanks

Known as the largest member of the Paradisaea genus, the Greater Bird-of-paradise is celebrated for its stunning yellow tail, featuring long wire-like extensions that can reach up to one meter in length.

However, you should note that the key characteristic of these birds is their high sexual dimorphism.

To be exact, males display vibrant, colorful feathers, while females typically have much duller plumage. This difference in appearance is particularly notable and plays a significant role in their mating rituals.

Behaviorally, Greater Birds-of-paradise are generally solitary. In other words, they prefer to live alone. They come together only during the mating season, marked by the males’ spectacular courtship displays.

Fun Fact: A fascinating aspect of Greater Birds-of-paradise is that their spectacularly feathered tails are exclusive to males.

12. Long-Tailed Paradise-Whydah

Long Tailed Paradise Whydah
Scientific Name:Vidua paradisaea
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:4.7–14.2 in (12–36 cm)
Weight:0.6–0.8 oz (16–22 g)
Lifespan:Up to 5 years
Unique Features:Extremely long tail feathers, overall brown plumage, black crown, distinctive C-shaped mark on cheeks

Originating from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Long-tailed Paradise-whydah is iconic for its long tail. In fact, despite their small body size of about five inches, these birds’ black tail feathers can grow as long as 14 inches.

To add to that, Long-tailed Paradise-whydahs are further characterized by brown plumage, a black crown, and a distinctive C-shaped mark on their cheeks.

With regard to habitat, these birds prefer woodlands and grasslands. Moreover, they are primarily granivorous, feeding on seeds that have ripened and fallen to the ground.

One thing to keep in mind about Long-tailed Paradise-whydahs, though, is that they are brood parasites. Specifically, they lay their eggs in the nests of other songbirds, relying on these host birds to raise their young.

Fun Fact: A noteworthy feature of these birds is their seasonal transformation. Outside of the mating period, male whydahs shed their extravagant tails and appear like ordinary sparrows.

13. Lady Amherst’s Pheasant

Lady Amhersts Pheasant
Scientific Name:Chrysolophus amherstiae
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:39.4–47.2 in (100–120 cm)
Weight:1.5–2 lbs (0.7–0.9 kg)
Wingspan:27.6–33.5 in (70–85 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Unique Features:Long barred tail, yellow eyes with blue-green bare skin around them, glossy green throat, shiny blue back

Coming up is the Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, which is a long-tailed bird native to Southeast Asia. Primarily, these birds’ tail feathers are known to measure around 31 inches in length.

As far as temperament is concerned, these pheasants are typically very introverted. Like most of their species, they prefer to stay hidden within vegetal cover, such as spiny bushes or bamboo thickets.

Although capable of flying, Lady Amherst’s Pheasants like to stay on the ground. This makes sense as their diet includes various insects, invertebrates, and plant material.

Fun Fact: An interesting factor about Lady Amherst’s Pheasants is the commercial value of their tail feathers. These feathers are often sold, with prices ranging from $8 to $20, and some even reaching as high as $200.

14. Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal
Scientific Name:Pharomachrus mocinno
Conservation Status:Near-Threatened
Length:14.2–41.3 in (36–105 cm)
Weight:7–8 oz (198.4–226.8 g)
Wingspan:Up to 15.7 in (39.9 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 10 years
Unique Features:Long, flowing tail feathers, colorful plumage, golden-green crest, yellow bill

A gem from Central America, the Resplendent Quetzal is renowned for its extraordinary tail that can extend up to 35 inches long.

However, one should note that these birds are more than just their lengthy tail feathers. They also boast shimmering plumage that comes in many metallic tints, such as blue, red, and green.

Typically, Resplendent Quetzals are quiet and solitary, often fiercely protective of their territory. They only pair up during the mating and brooding season, which emphasizes their isolated nature.

Yet, despite their declining status on the IUCN Red List, these birds have a substantial population in Costa Rica. So, if seeing one is your goal, going there is your best bet.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Resplendent Quetzals have a cultural significance in Aztec and Mayan civilizations? Their tail feathers were so valued that they were used as currency in these ancient societies.

15. Superb Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird
Scientific Name:Menura novaehollandiae
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:31–39 in (78.7–99.1 cm)
Weight:2–2.4 lbs (0.9–1.1 kg)
Lifespan:Up to 20 years
Unique Features:Lyre-shaped tail, red outer wings, overall brown coloration, black-tinted legs, bill, and feet

An Australian passerine songbird, the Superb Lyrebird is famed for its incredibly lengthy tail that can stretch up to 28 inches.

This tail, comprising sixteen plumes, includes two outer feathers shaped like the musical instrument, the lyre, hence their name “lyrates.”

Apart from that, Superb Lyrebirds include red outer wings, an overall brown coloration, and black-pigmented legs, beaks, and feet. This mix of features makes them easily identifiable in their natural habitat.

Additionally, a special talent of these birds is their ability to mimic various sounds. They can imitate different noises like car alarms, camera shutters, and even the deafening sounds of chainsaws.

Fun Fact: Did you know that young male Superb Lyrebirds do not grow their distinctive lyre-shaped tails until they are about three years old?

16. White-Throated Magpie-Jay

White Throated Magpie Jay
Scientific Name:Cyanocorax formosus
Conservation Status:Least Concern
Length:18–22 in (45.7–55.8 cm)
Weight:7.2–7.5 oz (205–213 g)
Wingspan:7–7.6 in (17.8–19.3 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 25 years
Unique Features:Long tail feathers, slightly curved crest, white-colored face

A species native to Central America, the White-throated Magpie-jay is characterized by its incredibly long tail, which makes up half of its total length.

On top of that, these birds are marked by a slightly curved crest, a white-tinted face and throat, and a blue back. Basically, their vibrant colors and long tails make them easily recognizable.

Behavior-wise, White-throated Magpie-jays are known for being noisy and gregarious.

While I was hiking in the Costa Rican rainforest, a flock of these birds landed in a tree above me. Their loud squawking quickly grabbed my attention. Several bold ones even fluttered down closer, eyeing me curiously.

As I walked on, I saw a pair working together to build a nest. One bird collected materials while the other carefully wove them into the structure. Their cooperative work would help ensure their later breeding success.

What Is the Longest-Tailed Bird?

Longest tailed bird Ribbon tailed Astrapia

The Ribbon-tailed Astrapia holds the record for being the longest-tailed bird. These avians’ remarkable tail feathers can stretch up to three feet, more than triple their body length.

Following closely in tail length is Resplendent Quetzals. Their tail extends an impressive 25 inches beyond the tail tip.

So, what do you think of these long-tailed birds? Did they leave you in awe? Tell us in the comments! Also, if any questions pop up in your mind, feel free to drop them down below as well.

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