Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers (Ptilogonys caudatus) are found only in the higher elevation mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. They are common there in forested areas above 6000 feet (1829 m) in elevation, where small, restless flocks of these birds are often seen perched at the tops of tall trees. I observed these Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica in the Cordillera de Talamanca or Talamanca Mountains at around 7000 feet (2134 m) in elevation.
Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers are members of the Silky-Flycatcher Family (Ptilogonatidae), and they have the fine, sleek plumage and head crest like most of the other family members. The colorful males like the one below are gray with a paler gray forehead and forecrest, dull yellow flanks, a bright yellow crissum, a yellow face and neck, and a yellow-tipped crest. With their yellow and gray coloration and jaunty yellow head crest, male Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers somewhat remind me of male Cockatiels.
Female Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers like the one below are mostly grayish olive green in color with a yellow crissum and a gray forehead and forecrest. Both sexes have a black bill, dark eyes, a long, pointed, black tail with a large patch of white at the base, and a yellow eye ring, which is less distinct on a male because of his similarly colored yellow face. The immatures are similar to the females, but they have a shorter tail with less distinct white markings.
Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers are restless, active birds, and I found their agile antics as they foraged for ripe berries both amusing and quite adorable. I stood not too far from them and watched them in a nearby bush dangling and swinging on long strands of berries as they gulped down the reddest and ripest berries.
Although they were intent on these delicious red berries, the Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers always managed to keep one bright, curious eye on me.
Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers feed mainly on berries and insects. As their common name would indicate, Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers practice flycatching and will dart out from exposed perches to capture flying insects. Although I mainly observed them feasting on the abundant berries found there in San Gerardo de Dota, I did also see them flycatching from the top of a towering oak tree in the cloud forest.
Of course, it was much easier to photograph the Long-tailed Silky-flycatchers as they gobbled berries in the lower growing shrubbery.