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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Oklahoma State Bird

Scissor-tailed flycatcher in flight; photo by Ken Slade on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution).

Official State Bird of Oklahoma

Oklahoma designated the elegant scissor-tailed flycatcher (Muscivora forficata) as the official state bird in 1951 (Oklahoma also adopted an official state game bird in 1990). All State Birds

The U.S. Mint's Oklahoma quarter features a scissor-tailed flycatcher (along with Oklahoma's official state wildflower) to represent the state.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Facts

Oklahoma is the center of the nesting range of the scissor-tailed flycatcher - a strikingly beautiful and graceful bird (sometimes called swallow-tailed flycatcher). In late summer large flocks of up to 1,000 birds form prior to migration to their winter range in southern Mexico and Central America (with some in southern Florida).

Protected by law, the scissor-tailed flycatcher is of great economic value; its diet consists almost entirely of non-useful and harmful insect species such as grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles.

This songbird's unique scissor-like tail can be twice as long as its body. The scissor-tailed flycatcher catches most prey by aerial hawking, but will also grab insects directly off vegetation.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher uses many human produced materials in its nest (such as string, cloth, paper, carpet fuzz, and cigarette filters). One study of nests found that artificial materials accounted for 30% of the weight of nests. The overall population seems stable, but it is declining in Oklahoma.