If you are interested in birdwatching or just curious about the official state bird of Oklahoma, you have come to the right place. Discover everything you need to know about Oklahoma’s state bird, including its physical characteristics, behavior, habitat, and interesting facts.
Several states in the United States have their own bird representing their territory. These states choose their feathered representatives for various reasons, from geographical location to distinguishing characteristics.
What is Oklahoma’s state bird? Oklahoma’s state bird is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Because Oklahoma has a diversified terrain, it became the flycatcher’s primary nesting range. It also feeds on insects, primarily flies, as the name implies.
A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is Oklahoma’s state bird, scientifically known as Tyrannus forficatus. It was designated as the state bird of Oklahoma in 1951. The bird is easily recognizable by its unique long tail feathers that comprise almost half its body length.
What is the state bird of Oklahoma? How was the decision made?
Each state has its own state symbol in the United States of America. It should come as no surprise that the American Buffalo or Bison is the state animal of Oklahoma. After all, Oklahoma is famous for its grasslands and rolling plains teeming with free-roaming bison. But what is Oklahoma’s state bird? The Scissor-tail Flycatcher is the correct answer.
You may have yet to hear of this bird if you are unfamiliar with the Great Plains and the south-central United States, specifically Oklahoma and Texas. If you’re familiar with these places, you’ve probably seen them perched on fences or wires along the road.
Physical Characteristics of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s distinct appearance sets it apart from other bird species. The bird’s upper body is pale gray, and its underbelly is white. Wings and tail feathers are black, with white tips on the wings. The most distinctive feature of the bird is its long, forked tail feathers that can measure up to 10 inches long. The female’s tail feathers are shorter than the male’s, and their overall body size is slightly smaller.
Behavior and Habitat
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a migratory bird species found in various regions of North and Central America. The bird’s breeding range covers most of Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico. The bird migrates to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America during winter.
The bird prefers open grassland and savanna habitats but can also be found in agricultural fields, pastures, and urban areas. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is an agile flyer and hunts for prey from high vantage points. The bird feeds on insects, including grasshoppers, beetles, and flies, and will also occasionally eat small vertebrates such as lizards and frogs.
Clustering and reproduction
When breeding season arrives, the male will put on a spectacular flight display to entice the female. He will climb and drop through the air repeatedly, opening and contracting his scissortail and making sharp sounds. They have even been observed performing backward somersaults in midair.
The female will nest 7 to 30 feet above ground in a tree or taller shrub. They like to build their nests on utility poles or other man-made structures such as towers and bridges. The female constructs the nest out of twigs, weeds, grass, and whatever else she can find. She typically lays three to five white eggs with brown and grey blotching.
After the offspring hatch, both parents take on feeding them. The young one will be ready to leave the nest and leave on its own 14 to 16 days after hatching. After the offspring hatch, both parents take on feeding them. The young one will be ready to leave the nest and leave on its own 14 to 16 days after hatching.
Tips for Observing the Scissor-tail Flycatcher in Oklahoma
Anyone seeking to catch a glimpse of this agile bird will need to be patient and make their way into its natural environment. Scissor-tail Flycatchers can be found in Oklahoma’s state bird from early April through late October. Individual birds have been known to arrive in late March and stay in the state until early to mid-November before moving south.
This bird is unlikely to be found in cities or suburbs. They prefer wide land and plains, often seen perching on fences, telephone lines, or lone tree branches along the roadside. To summarise, the ideal technique to locate a Scissor-tail Flycatcher is to go for a tranquil drive in the open country and keep a lookout along the route.
Interesting Facts about the Oklahoma State Bird
- The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is also known as the Texas Bird-of-Paradise.
- The bird’s scientific name, Tyrannus forficatus, means “scissor-bearing tyrant.”
- The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is the only bird species in the genus Tyrannus that breeds in Oklahoma.
- The Oklahoma state bird has been featured on a postage stamp and the state’s license plate.
- The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s long tail feathers are used in courtship displays, where males will perform aerial acrobatics to attract females.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is listed as a species of least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. However, the bird populations have experienced declines in certain regions, particularly in its breeding range in Oklahoma. Habitat loss due to agriculture, urbanization, and energy development threatens the bird’s long-term survival.
What is the significance of the Oklahoma state bird?
In 1951, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was designated as the official state bird of Oklahoma. It is an important symbol of the state’s natural heritage and a source of pride for Oklahomans.
How can I spot a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher?
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher can be identified by its long, forked tail feathers and pale gray upper body. Look for the bird perched on a high vantage point, scanning the area for prey.
What is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s diet?
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher feeds primarily on insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, and flies but will also occasionally eat small vertebrates such as lizards and frogs.
Is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher endangered?
There is currently no risk of extinction for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, according to the IUCN Red List. However, habitat loss and other threats are causing population declines in certain regions.
What can be done to help protect the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher?
Conservation efforts such as protecting and restoring habitat, reducing pesticide use, and promoting sustainable land use practices can help protect the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and other bird species. Additionally, supporting organizations that conserve bird populations can make a difference.
The Oklahoma state bird, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, is a unique and beautiful bird species throughout the state during the breeding season. Its long tail feathers and distinct appearance make it a popular subject for birdwatchers and photographers. However, as with many bird species, habitat loss and other threats endanger the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s populations in certain areas. Conservation efforts are needed to protect this beautiful bird and ensure its survival for future generations.
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