Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is the state bird of Oklahoma and a member of the kingbird species found in North and Central America. Attaining its name because of its long forked tail, this bird is also known as the swallow-tailed flycatcher and Texas bird-of-paradise.

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Aves
Passeriformes
Tyrannidae
Tyrannus
Tyrannus forficatus

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Animalia
Chordata
Aves
Passeriformes
Tyrannidae
Tyrannus
Tyrannus forficatus

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher

Physical Description

Size – 8.7-14.6 in (22-37 cm)

Wingspan – 5.9 in (15 cm)

Weight – 1.3-2 oz (37-56.7 g)

Plumage – Black, pale gray, pink flanks and white tail; red smudges under the wings at the shoulder area and black beaks.

Habitat

Savannahs make up their breeding habitat. During spring and fall, they can be found in open grasslands while their winter habitat includes urban areas or agricultural fields that are at the edge of tropical forests.

Distribution/Range

Found in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, southern Nebraska, and rarely in east or west Louisiana and southwestern Missouri and Arkansas. They migrate to Mexico, Costa Rica and sometimes even Panama during winters.

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Range

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Range

Behavior

  • They are territorial and do not tolerate the presence of a conspecific and aggressively chase them away.
  • These social birds congregate in folks during migration.
  • They groom themselves by preening, stretching, bathing and sunbathing.
  • They fly by making rapid wing-beats and the folded long tail following them.
Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Nest

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Nest

Mating and Reproduction

The breeding season is between April and August during which the male displays an aerial courtship by flying with the forks of the tail behind him. Nest building is done primarily by the female. 3-6 eggs are laid and incubated for 2-3 weeks.

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Babies

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Babies

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Eggs

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Eggs

Life-cycle

Babies nestle for 2 weeks before fledging, till then food is brought to the juveniles by both parents. Up to two broods are hatched each year.

Both sexes remain sexually immature for about a year after birth, after which they start to breed.

Lifespan

Approximately 10-15 years.

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Chick

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Chick

Sounds and Communication

Their songs consist of a procession of sharp notes that rise in pitch and speed up towards the end. They also use buzz-like rattles, chirps, and squeaks.

They also threaten each other with bill-snaps during fights. Both males and females make a high-pitched whirring sound with the wings during heated encounters.

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Images

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Images

Diet

They primarily eat insects like beetles and grasshoppers, spiders, bees, wasps in summers, while they would even eat berries for additional food during winters.

Adaptations

Their long tails provide them with adequate agility to help them hawk for insects in flight mid-air.

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher in Flight

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher in Flight

Predators

They are hunted by birds of prey like ravens and hawks.

IUCN Conservation Status

The IUCN Red list has categorized this bird under ‘Least Concern’.

Interesting Facts

  • They were previously called Muscivora forficate, where ‘musca’ in Latin means ‘to fly’ and ‘vorare’ means ‘to devour’, ‘forficata’ means scissors. This was changed to ‘Tyrannus’ to respect their aggressiveness during the breeding season, taking on larger birds of prey.
  • It contributes towards keeping the ecosystem as its diet comprises of pests and insects that destroy crops.
  • Besides hay and grass, their nesting material also consists of human items including cigarette butts, paper, cloth, strings, etc.
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher in Flight

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher in Flight

Scissor Tailed Flycatcher Video

References:

  1. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Scissor-tailed_Flycatcher/lifehistory
  2. http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tyrannus_forficatus/
  3. http://texasnature.blogspot.in/2006/03/scissor-tailed-flycatchers-are.html
  4. http://state-birds.findthedata.com/q/27/14478/How-long-does-the-Scissor-Tailed-Flycatcher-live
  5. http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/scissor-tailed-flycatcher

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