The long-tailed silky-flycatcher is a truly unique bird with distinct characteristics that set it apart from others. Its most notable features are its long, silky tail, noticeable crest, and stunning color combination. Known scientifically as Ptiliogonys caudatus, this species boasts a light grey forehead and measures about 24 cm in length – similar in size to a thrush and weighing around 37 grams. The lower belly, throat, neck, and crested head are all adorned in a vibrant yellow color, while the long, pointed tail and flying feathers are dark black. The back, lower breast, and upper belly showcase a beautiful blue-grey hue, and the outer tail feathers are dotted with white spots. This bird truly stands out in both appearance and character.
The female version of this bird has a darker grey area on its forehead, as well as an olive-colored body and a shorter black tail that isn’t as shiny as the male’s. Additionally, she is smaller overall, measuring about 21 cm in length. Even though young birds have less pronounced white patterns on their tails and shorter middle feathers, they still look quite similar to adult birds.
Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers can only be found in the highlands of western Panama and Costa Rica. They tend to inhabit areas between 1,850 metres and the timberline, where they can be seen exploring mountain woods, secondary forests, and meadows bordered by forested ravines.
When not engaged in reproduction, the Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher can be found grazing in small groups. They swoop down to catch insects or snack on small fruits, such as mistletoe. However, during breeding season (from April to June), they may choose to nest alone or in groups of up to five pairs. To construct their nests, they use lichen, which is fortified with spider webs or caterpillar silk to preserve the plant material. These nests are typically located within tree forks or atop tall shrubs surrounded by thick foliage. During the construction of the nest, the male helps feed the female. After the eggs are laid, the female incubates them for about 16 to 17 days while being fed by the male. Once hatched, both parents raise the chicks until they leave the nest after about 24 to 25 days.
Although generally referred to as a common bird, recent studies suggest that its population may be under threat due to the harmful effects of logging, burning, and agricultural activities on their natural habitat.