Scissor-tailed Flycatcher’s Wasp Feast

Today I want to share a photo I took recently of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with a wasp in its beak. I captured this shot at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is found throughout the southern Great Plains and southwestern United States. It gets its name from its distinctive long tail feathers that look like scissors when spread open.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher With Wasp
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher With Wasp

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers feed primarily on insects, which they often catch in mid-air. I’ve been fortunate to photograph these acrobatic hunters feasting on other insects as well. Back in May, I got a shot of one with a cricket in its mouth at Sunnymede Park in Fort Smith, Arkansas (Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Its Cricket Feast). Here is another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with a butterfly (Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Eating Butterfly). I photographed that one at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.

The wasp this flycatcher caught was large, though I’m uncertain of the exact species. Regardless of the species, it was a formidable catch for the flycatcher. Wasps can deliver painful stings with their needle-like abdomens. But Scissor-tailed Flycatchers have vice-like bills well-adapted for crushing the hard bodies of wasps, beetles and other large insects. This flycatcher seemed unfazed by the dangerous meal it had caught.

I find Scissor-tailed Flycatchers to be very entertaining to watch and photograph. I enjoy observing their aerial insect-hunting techniques. My goal is to one day photograph one of these skillful birds in the act of catching an insect mid-flight with its scissors-like tail fanned out. That would make for an exciting wildlife action shot! For now, I’m happy to have captured a few images of them posing with their crunchy insect meals.

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800

Technical Details:

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: July 22, 2023 (08:53 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/1600
  • ISO: 2000 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Focal Length: 800 mm

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