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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus


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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
credit: Kramer, Gary

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Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has very pale gray (nearly white) head, pale gray back and breast. Wings are blackish with white feather margins and tail is deeply forked, the outer feather long and streamerlike. Underparts are whitish, but flushed pinkish orange on belly, undertail, and underwing coverts; note the deep red axillaries ("armpits"). JUVENILE Much paler than adult with only faint pinkish flush on underparts. Tail is forked and relatively long, but outer feathers are not so long and streamerlike.

Dimensions Length: 14" (36 cm)

Habitat Locally common summer visitor (mainly Apr-Aug) to Texas, Louisiana, and adjacent states. Favors open country and farmland. Winters mainly in Central America.

Observation Tips Easy to see and tolerant of people.

Range Western Canada, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, New England, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Plains, Texas, California, Southwest, Eastern Canada

Voice Utters a sharp wip or more chattering wip-k'prrr.

Discussion Long, forked tail makes identification of all birds easy, and adult's long tail streamers are unmistakable. All birds feed on insects, typically caught in aerial sorties; often perches on overhead wires. Male performs spectacular courtship display in flight. Sexes are similar, but male's tail streamers are longer than female's.