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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher -- Tyrannus forficatus

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Colorado, southern Nebraska, and north-central Missouri south to western and southern Texas and western Louisiana; isolated breeding in northeastern Mississippi, central Tennessee, and central lowa. Winters in southern Florida and from Mexico to Central America; casually in southern Louisiana.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs on plains, prairies, mesas, and flats, and around pastures, woodland clearings, ranches, and farms. Perches for long periods on tall prairie plants, limbs of dead trees, utility wires, or fences.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open habitats with elevated perches.

NEST: Typically nests in cottonwoods, elms, or other hardwood species, in exposed sites 6 to 30 feet above the ground. Prefers isolated trees to those growing in clumps or heavier cover; occasionally uses fence posts, telephone poles, windmill towers, or buildings for nest sites.

FOOD: Flies from a perch to catch a variety of insects, but also picks up insects from the ground. Also eats few fruits, berries, and seeds.

REFERENCES: Beal 1912, Fitch 1950, Johnsgard 1979, Oberholser 1974a.

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