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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Tyrannus forficatus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TYRANNIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

An elegant gray and salmon-pink flycatcher festooned with an absurdly long tail, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is the bird to look for on fence wires in the south-central United States. They typically perch in the open, where their long, forked tails make an unmistakable silhouette. The tail proves useful as they expertly catch insects on the wing with sharp midair twists and turns. In late summer and early fall, scissor-tails gather in large, bickering flocks to migrate to Mexico and Central America.

Backyard Tips

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers occasionally supplement their insect diet by visiting berry bushes such as mulberry or hackberry.

Find This Bird

Within their range, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are one of the most conspicuous roadside birds—easily visible at 65 miles per hour if you keep your eyes peeled along fencerows from the passenger side of the car. Their pale color can make them hard to spot against the sky, but their long tails are eye-catching both when at rest and in flight. During migration in fall and early spring you may see them in very large, noisy flocks. They leave the U.S. in winter, so look for them in spring and summer.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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