TX Organic Research Center



Scissor Tail Bird

Scissor tail fly-catcher
Tyrannus forficatus

14"  which more than half is a very long and deeply-forked black and white tail.   Adult has bright salmon-pink sides and belly, head, upper-back and breast pale grayish white.  Immature scissor-tails have short tails and resemble western kingbirds; however, their underparts are pinkish rather than yellow.

Habitat: Open and semi-open country, roadsides, chaparral, ranches. Often seen perched on utility wires or fences.

Produces 5 creamy brown-spotted eggs in a bulky stick nest lined with soft materials placed in a solitary, isolated tree.      

breeds from eastern Colorado and Nebraska south to Texas and Louisiana, winters mostly south of border and southern Florida


Diet: Almost entirely insects; few berries. Feeds on insects, making it a  valuable bird when it comes to controlling insect pests. Insects consumed include moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, and cotton worms.


Notes: Spirited defender of territory against crows, hawks, etc. Gregarious in non-breeding season, Male performs acrobatic "sky dance" during courtship which even includes a few reverse summersaults in mid-air!

Local Lore:  When the Scissor Tails  returns, it is a sign to plant tomatoes.

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