Small, with a VERY long tail

by Ron G.
(Roseville, California, USA)

I live in California, just a bit east of Sacramento. I have a balcony overlooking a creek area. I've lived here for 17 years and have seen all sorts of birds in that time, but today I saw something that I've never seen before. At first I thought that it had somehow gotten a piece of branch or bark accidentally stuck onto its tail somehow, but then I got out my binoculars and I saw that no... that long thin thing dangling behind it WAS it's tail.


The bird in question was quite small. I would guess that the body itself was no more than about 3 or perhaps 4 inches. But behind it's butt, there was a long thin tail extending out for what seemed like perhaps 3 times its body length or more... perhaps 9-10 inches. (This is my best estimate, but I was viewing the bird from a distance of about 25-35 feet, so I could be way off.)

The bird was strictly black and white, except for a very short orange beak. It was black on top, and white on the belly and
all the way up to under the chin. It also had white patches along either side. It sort-of looked like this bird:

http://avise-birds.bio.uci.edu/passeriformes/corvidae/pica_nuttalli/images/1ybma_copy.jpg

but the tail was longer and thinner, the white on the underbelly extended up all the way under the chin, and the beak was shorter, and orange, rather than yellow.

I'm sure it wasn't a hummingbird, because when I saw it it was on the ground, pecking around for seeds or whatever, as many birds do down in the creek area.

Sorry, I did not think to get a picture.

What could this possibly be? I've never seen anything at all like it around here, so I guessing that it may be rare.

Comments for Small, with a VERY long tail

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Aug 26, 2017
We saw one also
by: Anonymous

We live in southern California and we saw exactly the same little bird in our backyard at the bird feeder. We have lived here for thirty years and have never seen one before. We are in Riverside County along the Santa Ana river bottom. I did get pictures but I don't know how to send them. Sorry.

Sep 22, 2012
NEVERMIND (Pin-tailed Whydah)
by: Ron G.

I googled around until I found out what bird this was. It was a breeding male Pin-tailed Whydah.

This are native to South Africa, but there is at least one online report of a sighting in Southern California, most probably either escaped pets or direct descendants of same. I am in Norther California however, and as far as I can tell, nobody has ever reported seeing these in the wild up here (until now).

Anyway, this is more definitely NOT a native species.

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