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The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher: Oklahoma State Bird

The official state bird of Oklahoma
This article was written by EB React on 27/10/2023

Introduction to the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Also learn about the history of the Oklahoma flag
Discover other symbol, the Oklahoma state flower

Why it's the state bird of Oklahoma

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher earned its esteemed position as the official state bird of Oklahoma in 1951, capturing the hearts of Oklahomans. Its nomination wasn't a mere coincidence. This striking bird, with its graceful long tail feathers, embodies the spirit of the Sooner State. 
One key reason is its enduring presence, with Oklahoma as a year-round home and a welcoming habitat for this species. Its beauty, known for its vibrant plumage and distinctive silhouette, mirrors the vitality and vivid landscapes of Oklahoma. Additionally, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher's aerial acrobatics and sweet songs make it a cherished symbol of freedom, resilience, and the natural beauty that Oklahomans hold dear.

Habitat and Range

Where Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are found

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, often called "Texas birds," are primarily found in the southern United States, with their core habitat in Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of New Mexico. These stunning birds are known for their distinctive long tail feathers.

While they are year-round residents in Texas, they migrate to Oklahoma in the spring and summer months. These beautiful creatures are a common sight in Oklahoma from late March to early September, adding to the state's natural charm.

Their preferred environments

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Oklahoma's official state bird, thrives in diverse environments. These elegant birds are often spotted in the state's open landscapes, including prairies and grasslands. They prefer nesting in tall trees, making them a common sight near wooded areas, and they're most active during the warmer months, with April to August being their prime nesting period. Their adaptability to Oklahoma's climate and habitat diversity has solidified their status as an iconic resident, making them a beloved symbol of the Sooner State for years.

Physical Characteristics of the State Bird of Oklahoma

Description of the bird's appearance

The elegant state bird, is a sight to behold. With its striking appearance, it stands out effortlessly. This avian beauty measures about 14-15 inches (35-38 cm) in length, boasting long tail feathers that make up over half of its total size. These tail feathers, or "scissors," are vivid and graceful, resembling delicate streamers.

The bird's plumage is predominantly pale gray, while its wings and tail display a contrastingly deep black. With a salmon-pink belly and a subtle crown of the same hue, this flycatcher is truly a marvel to witness.

Notable features

When it comes to the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, its most distinctive feature is its strikingly long tail feathers, which can extend up to 12 inches, almost three times its body length. These impressive tail feathers give the bird an unmistakable appearance and serve multiple purposes, such as aiding in aerial acrobatics during courtship displays and helping it catch insects in mid-air. With its vibrant peachy-pink underparts, a gray head, and a slender bill, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a graceful and charming bird to behold. Its unique traits make it a favorite among bird enthusiasts.

Cultural Significance

Why the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is important to Oklahomans

This bird holds a special place in the hearts of Oklahomans for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, it was officially designated as the state bird of Oklahoma on May 26, 1951. This date is etched in the state's history, symbolizing the bird's importance to its identity. 
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, with its striking appearance and distinctive scissor-like tail, serves as a unique emblem of Oklahoma's natural beauty and diversity. The bird's presence is not just ornamental; it plays a vital role in maintaining ecological balance by controlling insect populations, which is particularly valuable in agriculture. 
Moreover, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is celebrated in local culture, art, and folklore, making it an integral part of Oklahoma's heritage. Its unmistakable silhouette in the open skies is a source of pride and admiration for Oklahomans, strengthening their connection to their state's rich natural heritage.

Folklore or traditions associated with the bird

Folklore and traditions surrounding the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher have deep roots in Oklahoma's history. Dating back to the early 20th century, this graceful bird has been seen as a symbol of freedom and resilience. Oklahoma locals often tell tales of how the bird's distinctive tail feathers were believed to bring good luck, with some even incorporating them into traditional ceremonies. Each year, on May 1st, Oklahomans celebrate "Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Day," a festival filled with bird-themed art, music, and dance. 
The bird's elegant appearance and remarkable aerial displays have made it a common subject in local art and storytelling, further cementing its significance in the state's culture. These traditions not only highlight the bird's beauty but also serve as a testament to the deep connection between nature and Oklahoma's people.


EB React / Editor

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