Searching for the scissortail

Now is the time to start searching for the scissor-tailed flycatcher on its way north from the tropics to spend the summer in Oklahoma. Oklahoma is one of only seven United States in which the bird nests.

"Scissortails are neo-tropical migrants, which breed in North America in the summer and winter in Central and South America or the Caribbean islands," said Rachel Bradley, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "People will begin seeing them in Oklahoma any day now and they’ll inhabit the state until late October."

The birds are easily identified by their long, scissor-like tail that is seen outstretched during flight. Scissortails can often be seen perching on fences and telephone wires along open prairie roadsides watching for food.

According to Bradley, the scissortail’s diet consists largely of insects.

Landowners may make their land more attractive to scissor-tailed flycatchers and certain other bird species by planting and maintaining scattered shade and shrubs to add perching and nesting sites.

Wildlife enthusiasts who are not landowners can still benefit scissortails and other wildlife by supporting the Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program, which is committed to species not hunted or fished. They can aid the Wildlife Diversity Program by purchasing a Wildlife Conservation license plate, a Wildlife Department publication or by donating directly to the Wildlife Diversity fund. For more information about the Wildlife Diversity Program, log on to