SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER(Tyrannus forficatus) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher adult has a light grey head and grey-brown back, with black wings and upper tail feathers. Tail is more than double size of bird, and deeply forked. Flanks and under parts (including under tail) have an orange tinge. Eyes and bill are black, legs and feet grey. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has duller markings and a shorter tail. Bird length is about 30 cm (12 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Tyrannus-forficatus
NAME: ‘Flycatcher’ refers to the bird’s feeding behavior (see Diet below). ‘Scissor-tailed’ refers to the bird’s long, outer tail feathers. Latin genus name ‘Tyrannus’ means ‘tyrant’ or ‘king’. Latin species name ‘forficatus’ means ‘forked’ and ‘scissors’.
HABITAT: Semi-open areas such as fields, grassland, roadsides that provide perching locations ‘with a view’.
DIET: Insects caught on the fly, as name implies. Watches from perch, returns to same perch to eat prey. Also forages on the ground or foliage. This flycatcher eats lots of crop-damaging insects such as grasshoppers and crickets.
BREEDINE/NESTING: As part of courtship air dances the male will even perform reverse somersaults. Nest is located on a tree or shrub. Around four or five creamy eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in south-central USA and northwest Mexico. Winters along the west coasts of Mexico and Central America.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scissor-tailed_flycatcher – /media/File:Tyrannus_forficatus_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ (spring, summer and winter) or occasional (fall). See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Population has declined, but currently species is still not considered at risk.
NOTES: The scissor-tailed flycatcher is the State Bird of Oklahoma.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Fork-tailed Flycatcher
REFERENCES: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/scissor-tailed-flycatcher
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/scissor-tailed-flycatcher (Missouri Department of Conservation)
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABPAE52100 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tyrannus_forficatus/ (University of Michigan)
https://www.tn.gov/twra/wildlife/birds/grassland-and-shrub-birds/scissor-tailed-flycatcher.html (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)
https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/scissor-tailed-flycatcher/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Scissor-tailed_Flycatcher/lifehistory
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/844/behavior/Scissor-tailed_Flycatcher.aspx

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - WO - Apr. 2008 - USFWS, photo by Gary Kramer
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – WO – Apr. 2008 – USFWS, photo by Gary Kramer
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - National Aviary, Pittsburg, PA - Sept. 2012 - photo by Dick Daniels
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – National Aviary, Pittsburg, PA – Sept. 2012 – photo by Dick Daniels

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