Identifying Blue Birds With Long Tails

When bird watching, you may occasionally spot a flash of blue streak across the sky, trailing a remarkably long tail behind it. If you’ve seen a blue-plumaged bird with an exceptionally long tail, you’ve likely spotted one of several special species.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover the different types of blue birds characterized by their lengthy tail feathers. You’ll learn how to identify them by sight, sounds, behavior, habitat and other distinguishing features.

We’ll also overview interesting facts about their breeding, migration patterns, and conservation status.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a stunning bird species known for its vibrant colors and long tail feathers. Found in various parts of Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia, this bird is a delight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Let’s explore some interesting facts about the Blue-tailed Bee-eater.

Physical description and field marks

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 25-30 centimeters in length. It has a slender body with a distinctive long tail, which gives it its name. The bird has a predominantly green plumage with a blue crown and a blue patch on its throat.

Its underparts are pale yellow, and its wings are brownish. The long tail feathers of the Blue-tailed Bee-eater are a beautiful shade of blue, adding to its overall striking appearance.

One of the key field marks of this bird is its unique bill shape. The Blue-tailed Bee-eater has a long, curved bill that is well adapted for catching and feeding on flying insects, particularly bees, wasps, and dragonflies.

It uses its sharp bill to catch its prey in mid-air, making it a skilled aerial hunter.

Range and distribution

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a migratory bird that travels long distances in search of suitable breeding and feeding grounds. Its range extends across various countries in Asia. During the breeding season, these birds can be found in open habitats such as grasslands, savannas, and agricultural fields.

They often nest in burrows dug into sandy banks or cliffs.

Some of the countries where the Blue-tailed Bee-eater can be spotted include India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. They are also known to visit parts of China and Japan during their migration. These birds are highly social and often form colonies, nesting and roosting together.

Diet and feeding habits

The Blue-tailed Bee-eater is primarily an insectivorous bird, with bees and wasps being its main food source. It also feeds on other flying insects, such as dragonflies, butterflies, and beetles. These birds are known for their aerial acrobatics, catching their prey on the wing.

When hunting, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters can be seen perched on branches or wires, scanning the surroundings for insects. Once they spot their prey, they swiftly take off, swooping and diving to catch it in mid-air.

They have excellent maneuverability, aided by their long tail feathers, which help them change direction quickly.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a species of bird known for its distinctive long tail feathers. It is commonly found in North America, particularly in the central and southern regions of the United States. Here are some key points to help you identify this beautiful bird:

Identification tips

1. Long tail: The most noticeable feature of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is its long, scissor-like tail, which can be longer than its body. This unique adaptation helps the bird in flight, allowing it to change direction quickly and catch insects on the wing.

2. Coloration: The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has a pale gray body with hints of pinkish-orange on its flanks and underside. Its wings and back are darker gray, and it has a white belly. The bird also has a salmon-colored patch on its face, which adds to its striking appearance.

3. Size and shape: The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a medium-sized bird, measuring around 8 to 10 inches in length. Its body is slender, and it has a long, thin bill that it uses to catch insects. The male bird typically has longer tail feathers than the female.

Migration and nesting

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a migratory bird, spending the summer months in the United States and Mexico, and then migrating to Central America for the winter. During the breeding season, they build nests in open areas such as fields, prairies, and pastures.

The female bird constructs a cup-shaped nest made of grass, twigs, and hair, usually placed on a horizontal branch or in a shrub.

Once the nest is built, the female lays around 4 to 6 eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. Both the male and female take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks after they hatch. The young leave the nest about two weeks after hatching and become independent a few weeks later.

Preening behavior

Preening is an essential behavior for birds, including the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. It involves cleaning and maintaining their feathers, ensuring they remain in good condition for flight and insulation. The bird uses its beak to remove dirt, dust, and parasites from its feathers.

Preening also helps distribute natural oils produced by the bird’s preen gland, which keeps the feathers waterproof and flexible.

During preening, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher often stretches its wings and tail, revealing its stunning plumage. This behavior is not only functional but also serves as a display to attract mates and establish territory. It’s a sight to behold as the bird grooms itself with precision and grace.

For more information about the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, you can visit the All About Birds website, which provides detailed descriptions, photos, and audio recordings of this fascinating bird species.

Fairy Pitta

The Fairy Pitta is a species of bird known for its vibrant coloration and distinctive long tail. It is a small passerine bird that belongs to the family Pittidae. This bird is native to East Asia, specifically found in countries like China, Taiwan, and Japan.

It is known for its striking appearance and unique behaviors, making it a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

Coloration and markings

The Fairy Pitta has a stunning combination of colors that make it easily recognizable. Its upperparts are a deep shade of blue, while its underparts are a rich chestnut. The wings and tail feathers are black with white spots, adding to its overall beauty.

The male and female birds have similar coloration, making it difficult to distinguish between the two based on appearance alone. However, the males tend to have slightly brighter plumage during the breeding season.

Song and call

The Fairy Pitta is known for its melodious song and distinct calls. Its song is a series of sweet, flute-like notes that are often accompanied by trills and warbles. These songs are usually heard during the breeding season when the male is trying to attract a mate or defend its territory.

In addition to its song, the Fairy Pitta also has a variety of calls, including a loud, sharp whistle and a soft, chattering sound. These vocalizations are used for communication between individuals and to establish their presence in the area.

Breeding and lifespan

The breeding habits of the Fairy Pitta are quite fascinating. These birds are monogamous, meaning they form long-term pair bonds with a single mate. They nest in tree cavities, using their long tails to help balance as they enter and exit the nest.

The female typically lays a clutch of 3-4 eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the hatchlings until they fledge, which usually takes around 14-16 days.

The lifespan of a Fairy Pitta is estimated to be around 6-8 years in the wild. However, due to habitat loss and other factors, their population has been declining in recent years. Conservation efforts are in place to protect these beautiful birds and ensure their survival for future generations to enjoy.

For more information about the Fairy Pitta, you can visit the Audubon Society or the eBird websites.

Indian Roller

The Indian Roller is a beautiful bird known for its vibrant blue plumage and long tail feathers. It belongs to the roller family of birds and is native to the Indian subcontinent.

Visual characteristics

The Indian Roller is easily recognizable due to its striking blue coloration. Its head, back, and wings are predominantly blue, while the belly and breast are a pale blue-gray. The male and female individuals are similar in appearance, with slight differences in the shade of blue.

The most distinctive feature of the Indian Roller is its long tail, which can measure up to 8 inches in length. This long tail is often seen in action during flight, as the bird performs impressive aerial acrobatics.

Hunting and feeding

The Indian Roller is primarily an insectivorous bird, feeding on a variety of insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets. It is known for its hunting technique, which involves perching on a high vantage point, such as a tree branch or utility wire, and scanning the surroundings for prey.

Once it spots its target, it swoops down with great speed and agility to catch the insect in mid-air. This unique hunting behavior makes the Indian Roller an efficient predator.

Status and conservation

The Indian Roller is a common bird species in its native range of the Indian subcontinent. However, like many other bird species, it faces threats such as habitat loss and degradation due to human activities.

The conversion of natural habitats into agricultural land, deforestation, and urbanization are some of the factors contributing to the decline of the Indian Roller’s population. Conservation efforts are being made to protect its habitat and raise awareness about the importance of preserving biodiversity.

If you want to learn more about the Indian Roller and its conservation status, you can visit the IUCN Red List website, which provides detailed information on the species’ population trends and conservation measures.

Attracting Long-Tailed Blue Birds to Your Yard

Long-tailed blue birds are a beautiful addition to any backyard, with their vibrant blue feathers and distinctive long tails. If you’re interested in attracting these stunning birds to your yard, there are a few key steps you can take to create an inviting environment for them.

Water features

One of the best ways to attract long-tailed blue birds is by providing them with a reliable water source. These birds love to bathe and drink, so having a bird bath or a small pond in your yard can be a great way to draw them in.

Make sure to keep the water clean and fresh, as blue birds are known to be quite particular about cleanliness.

Fruit trees and bushes

Long-tailed blue birds are primarily insectivores, but they also enjoy feasting on fruits such as berries and cherries. By planting fruit trees and bushes in your yard, you can provide a natural food source that will entice these birds to visit.

Not only will you be attracting blue birds, but you’ll also be benefiting other wildlife that rely on fruit for sustenance.

Nest boxes and perches

Creating suitable nesting opportunities is another crucial factor in attracting long-tailed blue birds. These birds prefer to nest in cavities, so placing nest boxes in your yard can provide them with the perfect nesting spot.

Additionally, adding perches, such as tall trees or bird feeders, can give the blue birds a place to rest and observe their surroundings.

Remember, it’s important to be patient when trying to attract blue birds to your yard. It may take some time for them to discover and feel comfortable in their new habitat. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be increasing your chances of welcoming these beautiful birds to your outdoor space.


The exceptionally long tail feathers of certain blue bird species like bee-eaters, flycatchers, pittas, and rollers make them unmistakable. Getting a glimpse of their vibrant blue plumage and elongated tail is a magical bird watching treat.

With some strategic landscaping and features, you may be able to entice these beautiful long-tailed birds into your own backyard.

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