Scissor-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus forficatus

adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult
Manuel Grosselet/VIREO
adult male
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
adult male
Richard & Susan Day/VIREO
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Description

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. Young birds similar, but have shorter tail and lack bright pink on sides and belly.

Voice

A harsh kee-kee-kee-kee. Also chattering notes like those of Eastern Kingbird.

Listen

dawn song
interaction calls #1
interaction calls #2
pik calls
winter group calls

Habitat

Open country along roadsides and on ranches with scattered trees and bushes; also fence wires and posts.

Range

Breeds from eastern Colorado and Nebraska south to Texas and western Louisiana. Winters south of U.S.-Mexico border; a few in southern Florida.

Discussion

The Scissor-tail is often seen perching on a telephone wire with its extraordinarily long tail held out in a horizontal position. Like a kingbird, it erects its crest, emits harsh cries, and fiercely attacks hawks, crows, or other large birds that invade its nest area. In spring, they put on a wonderful aerial courtship display. With their long scissor-like tail, they can maneuver and "sky-dance" gracefully. Nearly all of their food is captured on the wing; included in their diet are many insects harmful to agriculture.

Nesting

5 creamy, brown-spotted eggs in a bulky stick nest lined with soft fibrous material and placed in an isolated tree.

Similar Species

adult

Say's Phoebe

7-8" (18-20 cm). Dusky head, breast, and back, with darker wings and black tail. Light rust-colored belly and undertail coverts.

adult

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.

adult

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.

adult

Western Kingbird

8-9" (20-23 cm). Olive-brown above, yellow below; gray head, lighter grayish throat and upper breast. Dusky wings and blackish tail with white margins. Red crown feathers not normally visible.

Vireo

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