Scissor-tailed Flycatchers

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus forficatus) are long-tailed, insect-eating birds that areclosely related to the kingbirds.

This is the state bird of Oklahoma and is prominently displayed in flight on the reverse of the Oklahoma Commemorative Quarter.


Adult flycatchers are grey above and light below with pinkish flanks. The wings are dark and the black tail is extremely long.

Immature birds have a duller plumage and shorter tails.

Distribution / Range

They breed in open shrubby country with scattered trees in the south central United States and northeastern Mexico.

For the winter, they migrate to southern Mexico and Central America.

They regularly stray to the ocean coasts of the US and are occasional visitors to southern Canada.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Nesting / Breeding

They build a cup nest in a tree or shrub on a branch, sometimes using artificial sites such as telephone poles.

The male performs a spectacular aerial display during courtship with his long tail streaming out behind him.

Both parents feed the young. Like other kingbirds, they are very aggressive in defending their nest.

Diet / Feeding

These birds mostly feed on insects which they catch by waiting on a perch and then flying out to catch them in flight.

They also eat some berries.

Photo Gallery

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in flight
Juvenile Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Photo of author

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