by Kathryn Mann
This is the scissor-tailed flycatcher a bird that is unique to Oklahoma and surrounding states. In my opinion no other flying bird is so beautiful and striking.
In Texas it often goes by a name that I think is more appropriate, the bird of paradise. They are extremely important in protecting agriculture because they eat large quantities of grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects.
I have taken hundreds of pictures of flycatchers, and never tire of seeing them elegantly pose for me. In most cases they have allowed me to get within 15 to 20 feet of them.
The male flycatcher has a nine-inch-long tail and the female’s is one to two inches shorter. Only one other bird species in the world has such a long tail in proportion to their body.
Scissor-tailed flycatchers are primarily gray with scarlet patches on their upper breast. They have a black tail and white face. These birds are migratory and range during the year from the southeast of Mexico to Kansas, and parts of southeast Colorado and the western part of Missouri. Nowhere are they more abundant than Oklahoma, where they are the state bird. When male flycatchers court females they perform aerial acrobatics that often include reverse somersaults.