Bird of the Week: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are a common sight in summer–though their beauty, both in flight and at rest, is anything but common. The bird’s long, forking tail–often longer than the bird’s body–gives it an unmistakable silhouette when perched, and its drab wings hide vibrant pink flanks, visible when it takes flight. These flycatchers, like their cousins the kingbirds, spend much of their time on power lines or fences, from which they sally out to catch insects. They are surprisingly agile, using their long tail feathers as rudders to help them follow the erratic flight paths of their prey. Scissor-tailed flycatchers are common within a fairly limited summer range which includes Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Despite this somewhat restricted range, however, these birds can wander far afield during migration: scissor-tails on their way from Central America to Texas have been found as far away as British Columbia and Nova Scotia!

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.