20 Impressive Birds with Long Tails

Delve into the world of avian wonders with us as we explore 20 unique birds known for their majestic long tails. Each bird we’ll be discussing adds a touch of splendor to the bird kingdom with their distinctive tail feathers and manifests remarkable survival adaptations. With tails used for everything from intricate courtship displays to enhancing flight agility, these bird species are an enchanting blend of elegance and evolution. Get ready to journey from the cloud forests of Central America to the highlands of Papua New Guinea as we discover the fascinating world of birds with long tails.

Why Some Birds Have Long Tails?

The question of why some birds have long tails has intrigued ornithologists and bird enthusiasts for years. However, multiple theories have been developed that provide an explanation:

Natural Selection and Sexual Selection

  • Survival Advantage: In many cases, long tails may give birds an edge in terms of survival. The extended tail feathers can act as a rudder, allowing for better steering and control during flight, making the birds more agile and able to evade predators.
  • Mate Attraction: Another predominant theory is that long tails have evolved due to sexual selection. Males sport extravagant tail displays in species like the peacock and widowbirds to attract mates. These displays are often an indicator of the male’s overall health and genetic quality, which females prefer for their offspring.

Mimicry and Intimidation

  • Distracting Predators: Some birds may use their long tails to distract or confuse predators. For instance, when chased, a bird can spread its tail, creating a larger appearance, which may startle the predator momentarily.
  • Intimidating Rivals: Similarly, long tails can be used to establish dominance over territory or to intimidate rivals, especially during mating season.

Top 20 Birds with Long Tails

1. Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent Quetzal
Birds with Long Tails

The Resplendent Quetzal, a vibrant bird species found in the cloud forests of Central America, is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Their tails, extending up to 65 cm long in males, are used in dramatic courtship displays.

They’re primarily frugivorous, consuming wild avocados but also supplement their diet with insects and small amphibians. Quetzals are associated with the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, symbolizing freedom and wealth.

2. Long-tailed Widowbird

Long-tailed Widowbird
Birds with Long Tails

Known for their extravagant black tail feathers, Long-tailed Widowbirds are natives of Southern Africa’s grasslands. During the breeding season, males put up an impressive display, flaring their up to half a meter long tails to attract females.

The diet of these birds primarily includes seeds and insects. Interestingly, research suggests that females tend to prefer males with the longest and most symmetrical tails, associating these traits with strong genetics.

3. Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw
Birds with Long Tails

Scarlet Macaws are large, colorful parrots native to humid evergreen forests in the American tropics. The long, pointed tail of a Scarlet Macaw comprises almost two-thirds of their total body length. These vibrant tails assist in their remarkable flying abilities.

They are known for their intelligence and loud calls. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, nuts, and seeds. Unfortunately, their captivating appearance and sociable nature made them popular in the pet trade.

4. Paradise Flycatcher

Paradise Flycatcher
Birds with Long Tails

The Paradise Flycatcher, prevalent in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, is renowned for its mesmerizingly long tail, particularly in males. Its plumage varies widely, from creamy white to rich rufous, with the males flaunting an extraordinary tail during the breeding season.

These agile birds are insectivores, hunting on the wing in woodland habitats. Despite seeming cumbersome, their lengthy tails do not inhibit their flight but enhance their maneuverability. They are believed to symbolize power and strength in certain cultures.

Read also: 11 Birds With Red Chest (With Photos)

5. Ribbon-tailed Astrapia

Ribbon-tailed Astrapia
Birds with Long Tails

Native to the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the Ribbon-tailed Astrapia holds the record for the longest tail feathers relative to body size among birds. Males boast a pair of tail feathers nearly three times their body length.

Their black body sharply contrasts the pure white tail, making it a mesmerizing sight during courtship displays. The Astrapia’s diet consists of fruits, insects, and small animals. Their extraordinary tails are believed to demonstrate their superior health and genetic fitness to potential mates.

6. Long-tailed Sylph

Long-tailed Sylph
Birds with Long Tails

Long-tailed Sylphs are small hummingbirds found in the Andean cloud forests of South America. Males are recognizable by their strikingly long, blue tail feathers that shimmer in sunlight. Their iridescent plumage and long tails are used in intricate mating displays to attract females.

These birds are nectarivores, feeding primarily on the nectar from a variety of flowers, though they also occasionally eat small insects. Though appearing heavy, their tails do not hinder their remarkable hovering ability and agility in flight.

7. Pin-tailed Whydah

Pin-tailed Whydah
Birds with Long Tails

The Pin-tailed Whydah, found across sub-Saharan Africa, is known for the male’s spectacularly long tail during the breeding season, which can be more than twice the length of its body. These small passerine birds display an amazing transformation where males grow long, black tail feathers and adopt a striking black and white coloration to attract mates.

They primarily feed on seeds but will also eat insects. Intriguingly, Pin-tailed Whydahs are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other bird species to be raised.

8. Blue Magpie

Blue Magpie
Birds with Long Tails

The Blue Magpie, specifically the Azure-winged variety found in East Asia, exhibits a long, splendid tail that adds to its majestic beauty. They sport a primarily blue coat, contrasted with a chestnut-colored underbelly.

Their omnivorous diet includes fruits, seeds, insects, and small animals. They are social birds, often seen in large, noisy groups. When foraging through the dense canopy, the tail helps in swift and flexible movement.

Read also: Kingfisher Symbolism and Meaning

9. Lyrebird

Birds with Long Tails

Lyrebirds are ground-dwelling birds native to Australia. The male of the species has a remarkable tail consisting of 16 feathers — two of which resemble the musical instrument, the ‘lyre’. These birds are famous for their incredible ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds.

The males use their splendid tails in a complex courtship dance, spreading them over their heads. Their diet is omnivorous, consisting of insects, spiders, and occasionally seeds and small invertebrates.

10. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Birds with Long Tails

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, also known as the Texas bird-of-paradise, is recognizable by its long, forked tail that can be up to twice its body length. These North American birds are agile flyers, often seen performing aerial acrobatics to catch insects in mid-air, which primarily constitute their diet.

Their distinct tail feathers play a crucial role in flight maneuvers and courtship displays, where the males dramatically wave their tail feathers side to side.

11. Male Indian Peafowl

Male Indian Peafowl
Birds with Long Tails

The male Indian Peafowl, or peacock, is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and magnificent long-tailed birds. Their tail, or ‘train’, isn’t a true tail but highly elongated upper tail covert feathers adorned with eye-like spots. Males fan these feathers out in a spectacular courtship display.

Native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, their diet includes seeds, insects, fruits, small mammals and reptiles. Peacocks symbolize beauty, pride, and mysticism in various cultures.

12. Yellow-billed Blue Magpie

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie
Birds with Long Tails

The Yellow-billed Blue Magpie is a member of the crow family, found in the Himalayan region. These birds are recognized for their long, striking tail and contrasting blue and white plumage. Their diet consists of fruits, invertebrates, small mammals, and birds’ eggs.

Like other corvids, they’re highly intelligent and display advanced problem-solving skills. Their lengthy tails serve multiple purposes, including improved flight control and social signaling.

Read also: 23 Fabulous Birds With Long Necks

13. Eastern Rosella

Eastern Rosella
Birds with Long Tails

The Eastern Rosella is a vibrantly colored parrot native to Southeastern Australia. It is adorned with various colors and a relatively long tail, providing balance during flight. These birds are primarily herbivorous, feeding on seeds, fruits, flowers, and the occasional insect.

They are known for their beautiful, melodic call and are sometimes kept as pets due to their striking appearance.

14. Golden Pheasant

Golden Pheasant
Birds with Long Tails

The Golden Pheasant, native to the mountainous regions of Western China, boasts an extravagantly colorful appearance with a long, golden-yellow tail. Males use their tail feathers, which can reach lengths of up to two feet, for spectacular courtship displays.

These omnivorous birds have a diet that includes berries, seeds, leaves, and small invertebrates. Known for their shyness, they often remain hidden in dense forests and are more likely to run than fly when startled.

15. African Paradise Flycatcher

African Paradise Flycatcher
Birds with Long Tails

The African Paradise Flycatcher is a passerine bird found across Sub-Saharan Africa. Males have elongated central tail feathers that can be twice their body length. Their tail is used in aerial displays to attract females.

Primarily insectivorous, they exhibit agile, acrobatic flight to catch prey. These birds are known for their cooperative breeding behavior, where older offspring assist parents in rearing the younger chicks.

16. Red-billed Streamertail

Red-billed Streamertail
Birds with Long Tails

Also known as the Doctor Bird, the Red-billed Streamertail is native to Jamaica. This hummingbird is noted for the male’s two extraordinarily long tail feathers that stream behind him during flight.

The diet of these small, agile birds consists mainly of nectar, supplemented with insects and spiders. Their long, curved bills and even longer tails make them one of the most unique hummingbird species.

Read also: 10 Stunning Black Birds With Yellow Beaks

17. White-tailed Tropicbird

White-tailed Tropicbird
Birds with Long Tails

The White-tailed Tropicbird is a graceful seabird found in tropical oceans. With its pure white plumage and elongated central tail feathers, it glides effortlessly above the waves.

These birds are adept fliers, using their long tails as a rudder for precise aerial navigation.

Their diet consists mainly of fish and squid. White-tailed Tropicbirds are known for their elaborate courtship displays, where they dance in the sky, showcasing their impressive tails.

18. Black-tailed Trainbearer

Black-tailed Trainbearer
Birds with Long Tails

The Black-tailed Trainbearer is a species of hummingbird found in the Andean regions of South America. Males boast a long, forked black tail, contrasting with their colorful iridescent plumage.

These agile birds primarily feed on nectar from flowers. During courtship, males perform an intricate display, hovering in front of the females while flicking their elongated tail feathers. The male’s striking tail plays a crucial role in attracting mates.

19. Common Pheasant

Common Pheasant
Birds with Long Tails

The Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) is a renowned game bird originating from Asia but widely introduced across the globe. With its vibrant plumage and long, elegant tail, the male Common Pheasant is a sight to behold. Its feathers showcase a combination of rich colors, including copper, gold, and green.

The tail, measuring up to 60 centimeters in length, adds to its regal appearance. In contrast, female Common Pheasants possess more subdued plumage for better camouflage.

Common Pheasants are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, insects, and small vertebrates. Their impressive long tails serve both ornamental and functional purposes, contributing to their overall allure.

20. Alexandra’s Parrot

Alexandra's Parrot
Birds with Long Tails

Alexandra’s Parrot, scientifically known as Polytelis alexandrae, is a stunning bird species native to Australia. This avian beauty is distinguished by its vibrant plumage and notably long tail.

The males exhibit an impressive display of green and yellow feathers in their gracefully extended tails. Females, although having slightly shorter tails, possess their own unique charm.

Alexandra’s Parrots are seed-eaters, thriving on a diet of seeds, fruits, and blossoms. With their captivating appearance and long tails, Alexandra’s Parrots are a true delight to observe in the wild.

Read also: 20 Fascinating Black Birds With Blue Heads

Final Thoughts

As we conclude our journey through the realm of long-tailed birds, it’s clear how these remarkable creatures blend functionality and aesthetics to survive and thrive. Each of these 20 bird species manifests a distinct use of its long tail for courtship rituals, predatory evasion, or enhanced flight agility. The intricate interplay of survival tactics and physical allure makes the avian world all the more intriguing. Keep this newfound knowledge at your fingertips for your next birdwatching expedition and remember, each bird’s tail has its own unique tale to tell.


1. Why do some birds have such long tails?

Birds have long tails for a variety of reasons. Often, the length and appearance of a bird’s tail play a vital role in courtship displays, helping them attract a mate. In some cases, long tails can also aid in flight, improving maneuverability and control. Additionally, a long tail can signal good health and superior genetics.

2. Does a long tail affect a bird’s ability to fly?

While a long tail might seem to hinder flight, this isn’t necessarily the case. In many species, the tail can actually aid in flight by improving balance and steering. However, in species with a particularly long tail, it might make the bird less agile or slower. Still, these species have often evolved to environments where agility and speed are less crucial.

3. Are birds with longer tails more likely to be targeted by predators?

The visibility of a long tail can make these birds more noticeable to predators. However, many long-tailed birds have evolved clever survival tactics. For instance, some can shed their long tail feathers when caught, enabling a quick escape. Furthermore, the ability to grow such a long tail despite the risks can serve as a signal to potential mates of the individual’s fitness and strength.

4. Do both male and female birds have long tails?

In many bird species, it’s predominantly the males that exhibit long tails, often used in courtship displays to attract females. However, there are exceptions; in some species, both males and females have long tails.

5. What are some examples of birds with the longest tails?

Bird species with particularly long tails include the Resplendent Quetzal, Long-tailed Widowbird, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, and the male Indian Peafowl. These species are notable for their long, often colorful, ornate tail feathers.

Martin Cooper

Hello and welcome! I’m an avid bird enthusiast, dedicated to observing, understanding, and documenting our feathery friends. I hope my passion and knowledge inspires your own avian admiration! Join me as we soar into this fascinating world.

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