Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

By Dave Hanks

The state bird of Oklahoma is indeed unique. On trips weíve taken to southern Texas in the early spring, we would look forward to experiencing this bird. Itís so unmistakable that you canít miss identifying it. Besides the extremely long tail, it has a white belly washed in salmon-pink, and a white head. Texas Bird of Paradise is this birdís nickname.

The male does a spectacular aerial, courtship display Ė his long forked tail streaming behind him. The pair builds a cup shape nest in an isolated tree or on a telephone pole. Human products (i.e. string, cloth, paper, carpet fuzz) are often used. In fact, they can make up 1/3rd of the weight of the nest. Both parents care for 3 to 6 young, and are very aggressive in defending them.

Scissor-Tails eat mostly insects like grasshoppers and dragonflies, and like other flycatchers, fly from a perch to nab them in mid-air. Berries are also on the menu.

When preparing for migration, they will gather in groups of up to a thousand.

If you are ever in the south-central states in open, scrubby areas with scattered trees, or even by large trees close to towns; look for this beautiful bird.

(Long tail on display)