Scissor-tailed flycatcher

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Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrranidae
Genus: Tyrannus
Species: T. forficatus
Binomial name
Tyrannus forficatus
(Gmelin, 1789)

The Scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) is a type of bird that lives in the United States and Mexico. It eats insects. It is grey on top and light grey underneath with pink on the sides. The wings are dark and it has a long black tail. It is named "scissor-tailed" because its tail looks like a pair of scissors. The tail is shorter when it is young, and the bird is not as colorful.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is closely related to the kingbirds. It is also the state bird of Oklahoma. The common name is derived from its former Latin name-Muscivoria forficata, meaning "flying"-"scissors" and "to devour." In Oklahoma, scissortails can be found on open prairies, along tree-lined roads, and along roadsides perched on fences, limbs and in isolated trees. They consume a great number of grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, and other ground-dwelling insects making them economically important and popular with farmers and ranchers.

Soon after the birds arrive in the state, the males begin their famous "sky dance," a popular site along roadsides during spring and early summer. After climbing about 100 feet in the air, the male makes a series of V-shaped flights, then plunges down in an erratic zigzag course often somersaulting while uttering a rolling, cackling call. The performance has been described as "an aerial ballet of incomparable grace." Nesting usually takes place in an isolated tree 7–30 feet above ground. Often two broods of 4-6 each are raised during the summer.

Scissor-tailed flycatchers are easily identified by their long scissor-like tail, which may reach nine inches in length. During flight the bird opens its tail like a pair of scissors and folds or closes the "scissors" when perching. The nape of its neck and its back are pearl gray, and the breast is white. Wings are sooty black with a touch of scarlet at the shoulders. The principal threat to scissortails is poaching. A great number of birds have been killed by poachers who wanted only the bird's tail.