Designated in 1951 as the official state bird of Oklahoma, the scissor-tailed flycatcher is a worthy winged symbol for our great state. This master of maneuverable flight is easily identified from a distance by its long tail and sky dance performances that are nothing less than striking. Beyond their beauty of flight, they sport distinct elaborate hues of salmon-pink on various parts of their body, making them a joy to behold. The songs of the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher vary depending on season or time of day. My favorite is their dawn song. When the sun begins its morning rise, just as it peeks over the horizon, so begins the dawn song of the Scissor-Tailed. If you’re in the right place at the right time, they will line the barbed-wire between the fence posts and be facing the sun. It’s a beautiful sight to see the first light of day illuminating their colors and creating a twinkle in their eyes. They will continue announcing the new day with their beautiful song until the sunlight turns from a yellowish gold to white. At that point, the sun is above the horizon and the shadows are long towards the west.

The agricultural industry benefits because their diet is largely made of harmful insects such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and flies. If farmers could, I’m sure they would keep dozens of hungry Scissors-Tailed Flycatchers around their crop fields.

To capture photos requires patience as they prefer to stay at a distance. When approached, they move down the fence line just out of reach for a good photo, as if they’re aware of the frustration they cause the photographer. Using a 100-300mm lens most times still doesn’t provide the range for a clean and sharp close-up image.  For this capture, I used a 600mm lens, and it would’ve been nice to have even more range with an 800-1200mm.

Next time you’re out for a Sunday drive, take a dusty dirt road, watch at the fence lines and you’re sure to see a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher.

Kerry T Crane
February 17, 2018

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