Tyrannus Forficatus – Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

Tyrannus Forficatus - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher found in the US

The scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), also known as the Texas bird-of-paradise and swallow-tailed flycatcher, is a long-tailed bird in the genus Tyrannus, which includes the kingbirds. The kingbirds are a family of big insectivorous (insect-eating) birds known as tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae). North and Central America are home to the scissor-tailed flycatcher.

Quick Overview: Tyrannus Forficatus – Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher
Body size: Around 11.5-15 in (29-38 cm) and a weight of 43 g (1.5 oz)
Main colors: Gray, Salmon-Pink, White, Brown, Black
Range: Eastern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Description

Medium flycatcher with salmon-pink sides and flanks, pale gray upperparts and head, white underparts and neck, and dark brown wings with white borders. The tail is long and scissor-like, black on top with white outer edges and white on the bottom with black interior edges.

Tyrannus Forficatus - Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher found in the US
Tyrannus Forficatus – Scissor-tailed Flycatcher eating his catch insect for a meal. Photo by: Judy Gallagher


These birds have a length of 11.5-15 in (29-38 cm) and a weight of 43 g (1.5 oz). Their wings could range from 36-39 in (14.25-15.5 cm).


During the summer, scissor-tailed flycatchers mostly eat on insects (grasshoppers, robber-flies, and dragonflies), which they catch by perching on a perch and then flying out to grab them in flight (hawking). In the winter, they will eat berries to supplement their diet.


Their breeding habitat is broad shrubby land with scattered trees in south-central Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, as well as western sections of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri, far eastern New Mexico, and northeastern Mexico.


They will walk, hop, or climb on the ground or on tree branches on occasion. They fly by making quick wingbeats with their long tail folded behind them. They will preen, scratch their heads, stretch, wash, sleep, roost, and sunbathe when it is appropriate.

Tyrannus Forficatus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Tyrannus
  • Species: Tyrannus forficatus

Best time of the year to see

 The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the USA

The breeding range includes eastern Colorado and Nebraska, as well as Texas and western Louisiana. Winters south of the US-Mexico border, with a few months in southern Florida.

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Tyrannus Forficatus – Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

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