Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

General description.

The adult scissor-tail has bright salmon-pink sides and belly; the rest of him is pale gray. The graceful tail is more than half the bird's total 14 inches. They are noisy and aggressive and will chase birds much larger than themselves.

Juvenile appearance.

The young "Scissor-tailed Flycatcher" is similar to his parent, but lacks his bright pink coloring. Their tails are also shorter.

Breeding habits.

The springtime courting ritual of the "Scissor-tailed Flycatcher" is a wonder to behold, as the male wheels and dips and dives. He begins with a climb to about a hundred feet, plunges down a fourth of the way, zigs up, zags down again and again. This graceful "sky dance" finishes as he shoots straight up, then topples down in two or three incredible backward somersaults, flashing his colorful underwings before the female.

Calls or song.

During his mating dance, the flycatcher sounds a rolling cackle-like rapid, high-pitched hand clapping. Otherwise both sexes utter a dry, harsh "pik, kip, bik" and repeated calls of "kee-kee", "ka-leep" and other buzzy, chattering notes.

Population and distribution.

The "Scissor-tailed Flycatcher" inhabits open country along roadsides. It is most often seen perched, for hours, on a wire or fence, the long tail trailing elegantly. This bird is especially numerous in southern Texas. It winters in Mexico and Central America.

Nesting habits.

Little thought goes into the making of the "Scissor-tailed Flycatcher's" nest. They will build anywhere - in a tree, a mesquite bush, the crossbar of a telegraph pole or the framework of a bridge. One was seen attempting construction on the blades of a windmill. The nest is made of soft fibrous material; a compact cup of twigs, weeds, grass, twine or cotton. There the female lays five creamy-brown spotted eggs.

Similar birds:

Eastern Kingbird Photo Eastern Kingbird
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