As I drove down the auto tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, my eyes scanned the surrounding trees and fields for any signs of movement. Suddenly, I spotted a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher perched on a branch near the road. I quickly pulled over and readied my camera, hoping to capture a few shots of this fascinating bird.

As I focused my lens on the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, I was amazed to see it catch a butterfly and return to its perch to eat it. I was able to get a photo of the bird with the butterfly in its beak before it consumed it. Curious to know what kind of butterfly it was, I sent the photo to my friend Mia McPherson, who confirmed that it was a Viceroy Butterfly.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Eating Butterfly

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Eating Butterfly

What struck me as odd was that the Viceroy Butterfly looks very similar to the Monarch Butterfly, which is toxic to birds. Despite this, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher seemed to have no qualms about devouring the Viceroy. It occurred to me that perhaps this bird had never eaten a Monarch before and had not learned to avoid it.

After some research, I discovered that birds who consume a Monarch Butterfly will typically vomit and learn to avoid the toxic insect in the future. As for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, it appeared to have no issues consuming the Viceroy Butterfly, suggesting that this particular species was not poisonous to birds.

Further research revealed that Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have a diverse diet that includes a variety of insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and dragonflies. They are also known to eat spiders, small lizards, and occasionally small fish.

In conclusion, my encounter with the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was an exciting and informative experience. Not only did I capture a stunning photograph of this bird with its prey, but I also learned more about its dietary habits and preferences. It is fascinating to see how different species adapt and evolve to survive in their respective environments.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: April 30, 2023 (10:21 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/2500
  • ISO: 1000 (Auto)
  • Focal Length: 500 mm