U.S. State Bird of Oklahoma -
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a Tyrant Flycatcher of the Southern Great Plains. It is easy to identify because of it's rediculously long tail, especially on the males.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher hunt insects in open country, but like to save energy by sitting in trees, poles or wires.

  • Official Oklahoma State Bird: Lark Bunting
  • American Ornithologists' Union Common Name: Lark Bunting
  • Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatcher
  • Scientific Name: Tyrannus forficatus
  • Length: 13" (33 cm)
  • Diet: Insects, berries
  • Voice: Song lower pitched and flatter than Western Kingbird, with slightly different pattern pidik pek pik pik pidEEK. Dawn song pup pup pup pup pup perek. Common call a relatively low, flat pik; lower than Western Kingbird. Also pik-prrr or kopik or higher, sharper kid.
  • Habitat: Semi-open country, ranches, farms and roadsides.
  • Displays: Male performs dramatic up-down and zigzag courtship flight, with cackling-snapping call; may end with reverse somersaults. Flowing tail well displayed.
  • Number of broods: 1
  • Nest: Usually on horizontal limb, occasionally in fork or crotch, low in tree or shrub, also on human-built structure; roughly built of twigs, rootlets, weed stems, moss, plant down, occasionally feathers, hair. Built in 2-4 days.
  • Eggs: Averages 3-5 white, creamy, pinkish eggs, lightly mottled with red, brown, gray, olive. 0.9" (23 mm).
  • Incubation period: 14-17 days
  • Fledge: 14-16 days after hatching
  • Longevity Record: No data available according to USGS Bird Banding Lab. Birds are easiest to band as nestlings, but very few banded birds have ever been recovered. According to a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma in 2012, young birds don't return to the areas where they hatched. Birds were being color banded to see if they could be identified without having to be recaptured.

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher became the Oklahoma State Bird under House Joint Resolution Number 21, signed into law on May 26, 1951. Despite a failed first attempt to make the bird the official symbol, the scissor-tail was eventually chosen for its diet of harmful insects, its Oklahoma-centered nesting range, and by the fortunate circumstance that no other state had designated it.

The successful push for the Scissor-tail Flycatcher to be the State Bird by the state's Audubon Society, garden clubs, and other wildlife supporters culminated with the backing of Lou Allard, chairman of the House of Representatives' Committee on Game and Fish. The scissor-tail defeated other contenders for the title, notably the bobwhite (quail), which had won a 1932 State Federation of Women's Clubs-sponsored contest.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Feeds Young and Removes Fecal Sac

A 10 second video that shows the adult feeding the young and removing and swallowing a fecal sac from one of the young. This is how they keep the nest clean and free from scent that could attract predators.

Male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

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