I was thrilled to spot Scissor-tailed Flycatchers during my most recent trips to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma in late September and October. These acrobatic birds are a treat to observe and photograph, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some still lingering this late into fall migration season.
On a trip during the final week of September, I was lucky enough to capture the photo above of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher perched on an old corn stalk. Its dramatic, forked tail and pinkish sides stand out beautifully against the cornfield. Moments after taking this shot, the flycatcher took off in pursuit of an insect, scissoring its extra-long tail feathers through the air.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are typically present in the state from early April through late October. Most have departed for their wintering grounds in Central and South America by mid-October, but some individuals hang on until mid-November. So while not guaranteed, there is still a chance of sighting these aerial acrobats during the last couple weeks of October at places like Sequoyah NWR.
As a wildlife photographer, I always look forward to the arrival of the Scissor-tails each spring. Their graceful, swooping flight and bubbly, twittering song add excitement to the prairies and open fields where they nest and forage. Though I’m sad to see them depart each fall, I feel fortunate to have captured images of them gracing the Oklahoma landscape into the final days of October this year. I’ll be watching the skies for their return come April!
- Camera: Canon EOS R7
- Lens: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
- Date and Time Taken: September 28, 2023 (07:33 A.M.)
- Program Mode: Manual
- Aperture: f/5.6
- Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
- ISO: 400 (Auto)
- Exposure Comp: +0.3
- Focal Length: 500mm