Fork-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus savana

George L. Armistead/VIREO
Geoff Malosh/VIREO
Christian Artuso/VIREO
A. Binns/VIREO
Fork-tailed Flycatcher


10-16" (25-41 cm). Black cap, white underparts, white wing linings all separate this species from the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Yellow crown patch in adult usually concealed. Extremely long black tail of the adult flutters in flight. Juveniles similar to adult, but tail is much shorter.


Buzzy chattering song; call note a sharp sick or plik.


Savannas, open scrubby habitat; usually found on or near the ground; U.S. vagrants typically found in coastal scrub and fields.


Southern Mexico to Argentina; strays to eastern U.S. seaboard.


The Fork-tailed is a rare example of a neotropical resident species that strays regularly to the northeastern United States and Canada. Most thought to be migratory "overshoots" of South American individuals (including young birds) moving northward after the breeding season in southern South America. Often perches on roadside wires or fences.


2-5 eggs in a cup nest of twigs, fibers and grass. No U.S. breeding records.

Similar Species


Black Phoebe

6-7" (15-18 cm). Slate-black except for white belly, undertail coverts, and outer tail feathers. Its tail-wagging, erect posture, and insectivorous feeding habits are helpful in field identification.


Loggerhead Kingbird

9" (23 cm). Closely resembles Gray Kingbird.


Gray Kingbird

9" (23 cm). A stocky, large-headed, pale gray flycatcher of coastal habitats. Underparts whitish; dusky blackish patch through eye; bill heavy; tail notched, without white.

adult male

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

14" (36 cm). Adult has bright salmon-pink sides and belly; pale grayish-white head, upper back, and breast. More than half its length is the very long and deeply forked black and white tail.


Eastern Kingbird

8-9" (20-23 cm). Blackish head, blue-black mantle and wings; black tail with white terminal band; white below. Red feathers in middle of crown usually concealed.


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