Documentation of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Observer Information

Reporter:  Christopher Rustay   
Other Observers:  none; yes, I'm the original finder. Others, at a meeting I was driving to, looked for it on the way back but apparently didn't locate the bird.

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
First Date/Time:  5/31/2012
Last Date/Time: 
Duration (total time in view):  ~ 3 minutes
County:  Cheyenne
Specific Location:  Hwy 287 above 1/2 mile north of CR D (County? Cheyenne? Road)
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


shortgrass prairie

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Binoculars 8x42
Distance:  An estimated 30 ft.-from the east side of road, across road to right-of-way fenceline
Light:  Light coming from behind me towards the bird and was excellent on a clear day.

Description of the Bird

Tail about the same length as the rest of the body. Body approximately the same length as that of a nearby Mockingbird though the two weren't side by side for direct comparison. Tail, from above, appeared to be composed of just two very long retrices that split close to the tip of the tail.
Head: light gray
Back: slightly darker brownish-gray
Wings: a dark brown with flight feathers broadly edged in white or light gray.
Tail: appeared entirely darkish to medium brown from above; from below appeared primarily white but with dark on the terminal ends.
Underparts: mostly white but with sides a salmon color.

There was a bright pink or even scarlet line just above the "shoulder".
Behaviors: First noticed the bird as it flew across the road in front of my car, relatively low towards a fence. Refound just a minute or so later (after turning the car around) and it was sitting on a fence wire. It made one typical flycatcher-like sally out and back to the fence wire. During the sally, as it was turning back to the fence it spread it tail quite widely, providing an open scissors look, returning it back to a closed position upon landing back on the wire.
Call: None heard
Plumage: Apparent adult plumage

Similar Species Discussion

very few. Potential with mockingbirds but they lack the pink on the sides and the extraordinarily long bifurcated tail.

Resources Used


Previous Experience

I'm very experienced with this species and mockingbirds. I work in the southern Great Plains and travel fairly frequently, having seen STFL every year since 2002 on multiple occasions in multiple states, including NE, KS, OK and NM. This is the first time I've seen one in CO.


Notes made AFTER observation

Additional Information

Time: 8:31 am
Other Dates:
Nearest Town: Kit Carson or Eads
Independent Observers: yes, I'm the original finder. Others, at a meeting I was driving to, looked for it on the way back but apparently didn't locate the bird.

Materials Available

No files uploaded.

Date Documentation Submitted

8/3/2012 6:40:00 AM