Fun Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
May 16, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Scissor-tailed flycatcher facts about a flycatcher bird with a very long forked tail.

The Scissor-tailed flycatcher, scientifically known as Tyrannus forficatus, belongs to the genus Tyrannus and the family Tyrannidae. They are otherwise called the Texas bird of paradise or Swallow-tailed flycatchers.

The common name Scissor-tailed flycatcher of these birds comes from the long tail feathers that slit up at the end to appear like a scissor. While in flight, they open and close their tail like a pair of scissors.

A group of these birds is called kingbirds which are insectivores. They are ecologically very important species as their diet consists of insects like grasshoppers, beetles, and crickets and hence protect the vegetation.

These birds are native to Central and North America. They migrate to South America during winter and return to North America in their breeding season and nest to lay eggs.

In late summer, before migrating, they form large roosts or flocks of nearly 1,000 birds. A Scissor-tailed flycatcher range has been expanding due to deforestation in both places where it breeds and migrates.

If you find the facts about the Scissor-tailed flycatcher exciting, read our other articles to know more interesting facts about the Ring-necked duck and Prairie falcon too.

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a scissor-tailed flycatcher?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) is a bird with a very long tail belonging to the genus Tyrannus.

What class of animal does a scissor-tailed flycatcher belong to?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher belongs to the class of Aves.

How many scissor-tailed flycatchers are there in the world?

As per Partners In Flight, the number of Scissor-tailed flycatchers globally is nearly 9.5 million, with most of them breeding in the United States and 50% of them spending some time in Mexico. According to a report in the North American Breeding Bird Survey, their number has decreased by 31% between 1996 and 2014.

Where does a scissor-tailed flycatcher live?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher lives in an open country with isolated trees in states like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas in the south-central U.S. They are also seen in western parts of Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana.

They occasionally flay towards the far north of America as southern Canada and towards the far east as Georgia and southern Florida. In winter, which is their nonbreeding period, they migrate to eastern Mexico through Texas and also through the range from southern Mexico to Panama in South America.

What is a scissor-tailed flycatcher's habitat?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher's habitat is savannas with scattered trees and shrubs. They even live in an open country near small towns and ranches. They often live in a nest built on telephone poles in towns. They also live in agricultural lands, urban areas, and pastures.

Who do scissor-tailed flycatchers live with?

Scissor-tailed flycatchers are solitary and live on their own. They are intolerant of even the same species of birds and chase them away.

How long does a scissor-tailed flycatcher live?

The lifespan of a Scissor-tailed flycatcher is nearly 10-15 years.

How do they reproduce?

April to August is the breeding season during which the male tries to attract the female by displaying an eye-catching aerial courtship with their widespread tail. The nest is built high on trees by the females, and males may help build the nest.

Their nest is made from grass, hay, and things used by humans like cigarette butts, paper, cloth, carpet fuzz, and strings. The female lays nearly three to six eggs. Most of the time, the female incubates the eggs and the incubation period is 14-18 days.

The young birds stay in the nest for two weeks, until which both parents provide food for baby Scissor-tailed flycatchers. The juvenile Scissor-tailed flycatcher becomes sexually mature after a year.

What is their conservation status?

As per IUCN, the conservation status of these birds is of the Least Concern. The main threat to these birds is habitat loss due to the clearing of forests.

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher Fun Facts

What do scissor-tailed flycatchers look like?

You may be wondering about how to identify these birds. These birds have heads and upper parts in pale gray color. Their flanks are salmon pink in color, and their wings are dark gray.

They have red spots under their wings near the shoulder area. They have long tail feathers which open and close during flight and help the bird to make sharp twists and turns.

The upper side of their long forked tail is black, while the underside is white. Young birds are slightly different from adults with shorter tails and dull plumage. The western kingbird species is most likely related to young birds of Scissor-tailed flycatchers.

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher on electrical wires.

How cute are they?

They are adorable birds with long beautiful tails that split like scissors. A Scissor-tailed flycatcher flying with open wings lets us see the salmon-pink color of its shoulders and underwings.

How do they communicate?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher communicates by making squeaking sounds, chirping, and buzzing like rattles. The Scissor-tailed flycatcher song consists of sharp notes with high pitch and speeds up at the end. When fighting with other birds, they make whirring sounds with their wings.

How big is a scissor-tailed flycatcher?

Male Scissor-tailed flycatchers are nearly 15 in (38 cm) long, and females are smaller than males. The tail of females is 30% smaller than the males. Their wingspan is nearly 15 cm. They are smaller than an American Robin though they look bigger because of their long tail. These birds are larger than an Eastern Phoebe.

How fast can a scissor-tailed flycatcher fly?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher flies very fast in straight lines and with fast wingbeats at a speed of 65 mph. They use their long scissor-like tail for catching insects by aerial hawking, making sudden twists and turns during flight.

How much does a scissor-tailed flycatcher weigh?

A Scissor-tailed flycatcher weighs about 1.3-2 oz (36-56 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female species of these birds.

What would you call a baby scissor-tailed flycatcher?

Scissor-tailed flycatcher eggs hatch to form babies, which are called hatchlings.

What do they eat?

These birds feed on insects like grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, bees, and spiders during summer. During winter, along with insects, they eat wild fruits and berries.

Are they aggressive?

These birds are very aggressive, especially while defending their nest. The former name of this bird is Muscivora forficatus, and the present name is Tyrannus forficatus.

The reason for changing the name is that other birds of these species are so aggressive in defending their territories and can even chase away the larger birds of prey that come to its nest.

Would they make a good pet?

There are no known incidences where a Scissor-tailed flycatcher has been raised as a pet. They love flying in the open sky and love to hawk on flying insects and might feel isolated and depressed if they are caged.

Moreover, some states may not allow them to be raised as pets. So it would be better if the bird is left to fly in the blue skies instead of being caged as pets.

Did you know...

The name of this bird was earlier Muscivora forficata, which is derived from Latin in which 'muscu' means ‘to fly’, and ‘vorare’ means ‘devour’, and the word ‘forficata’ is derived from ‘forfex’, which means ‘scissors’. This name was changed to Tyrannus forficatus, and they get this name because of its aggressive behavior.

Oklahoma's state bird is the Scissor-tailed flycatcher because this state of the U.S. is the center of the home range of this bird. The new logo of the professional soccer team of Oklahoma, FC Tulsa, has a Scissor-tailed flycatcher bird on it. The population of Scissor-tailed flycatchers has, however, declined in Oklahoma.

A great way to attract these birds is by providing them with a habitat that they prefer.

These birds are economically important as they protect agricultural yield by eating insects that damage them. So even if they are loud or encroach upon your personal space to build their nests, it is not a good idea to get rid of them as they protect our crops.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher symbolism means that 'something in your life that has been not necessary for some time has come to an end'.

How can you tell the difference between male and female scissor-tailed flycatchers?

Male birds are larger than females, and the females' tails are 30% shorter than males. The males are more bright-colored than the females.

What is a group of scissor-tailed flycatchers called?

A group of Scissor-tailed flycatchers is called Kingbirds.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the northern shoveler, or purple sandpiper.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our scissor-tailed flycatcher coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

Read full bio >
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Chandan Shukla picture

Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

Read full bio >