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scissor-tailed flycatcher

scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

Features and Behaviors

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is 13-15 inches long (bill tip to tail tip in preserved specimen). It has pale gray feathers on most of the body, but the wing and tail feathers are dark gray to black. The side feathers near the wing base are orange-brown. The wing linings when seen from below are dark pink. The tail feathers are very long. The immature scissor-tailed flycatcher has a shorter tail and duller side feathers than the adult.

This species frequents farms, roadsides, wires and fences. It eats flying insects. The scissor-tailed flycatcher is not a resident of Illinois, but it nests as close as Missouri, Tennessee and Iowa. Individuals seen in the state are believed to be spring migrants that migrated further than their normal breeding range. The species winters from the Gulf Coast states to Central America.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae

Illinois Status: common, native