Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Oklahoma State Bird

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Scissor-tailed flycatcher in flight

Scissor-tailed flycatcher in flight; photo by Ken Slade on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution).

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Oklahoma designated the scissor-tailed flycatcher (Muscivora forficata) as the official state bird in 1951 (it is also featured on the Oklahoma quarter). Protected by law, the scissor-tailed flycatcher is of great economic value (its diet consists almost entirely of non-useful and harmful insect species such as grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles).

This songbird's unique scissor-like tail can be twice as long as its body. It catches most prey by aerial hawking, but will also grab insects off vegetation.

Oklahoma is the center of the nesting range of the scissor-tailed flycatcher, a strikingly beautiful and graceful bird (sometimes called swallow-tailed flycatcher). In late summer large flocks of up to 1,000 birds form prior to migration to their winter range in southern Mexico and Central America (with some in southern Florida).

The scissor-tailed flycatcher uses many human produced materials in its nest (such as string, cloth, paper, carpet fuzz, and cigarette filters). One study of nests found that artificial materials accounted for 30% of the weight of nests. The overall population seems stable, but it is declining in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma

Images

Scissor-tailed flycatcher perched on barbed wire; photo by Dale Hichens on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works).

Scissor-tailed flycatcher perched on barbed wire

The Oklahoma commemorative quarter features the state bird (scissor-tailed flycatcher) and Indian blankets (the state wildflower); public domain image on Wikipedia.

Oklahoma quarter

Videos

Scissortail Flycatchers