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State Symbols: State Birds

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Oklahoma State Bird

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher State Symbol: Oklahoma State Bird - Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

(Muscivora forficata)

Adopted on May 26, 1951.

From its long tail to its famous "sky dance," no other Oklahoma bird is more striking and identifiable than the scissor-tailed flycatcher, (Muscivora forficata.) No wonder the State Legislature adopted the scissortail as the state bird May 26, 1951, after school children discovered enormous support from garden clubs and Audubon Society chapters. The selection is even more special because none of the other seven states in which scissortails nest have named it as their state bird.

Oklahoma State Bird: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Common Names

Well-scissortail, Texas bird-of-paradise and swallowtailed flycatcher.

Characteristics of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher State Symbol: Oklahoma State Bird - Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, Muscivora forficata, is a somewhat quiet bird with beautiful plumage and a long sleek tail that is twice as long as its body. The deeply-forked tail resembles a pair of scissors. The Scissor Tailed Flycatcher has a black and white tail, a dark gray back, a light gray chest and head and has pale orange red coloring beneath its wings.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher is known by other names as well-scissortail, Texas bird-of-paradise and swallowtailed flycatcher. It is obvious how the bird acquired its common names, but its former Latin name-Muscivora forficata-describes the bird in even grander terms. Muscivora derives from the Latin word for "fly" (musca) and "to devour" (vorare), while forficata comes from forfex, or scissors. The scissortail now is a member of the genus Tyrannus, or "tyrant-like flycatchers." This genus earned its name because several species are extremely aggressive on their breeding territories, where they will attack larger birds such as crows, hawks and owls.

Oklahoma House Joint Resolution No. 21

House Joint Resolution No. 21
A Joint Resolution designating and adopting the scissor-tailed flycatcher, muscivora forficata,
as the State bird of Oklahoma;
establishing May 1st of each year as "Bird Day";
and declaring an emergency.
WHEREAS, the State of Oklahoma has not designated or adopted any State Bird; and
WHEREAS, Oklahoma is the center of the nesting range of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Muscivora Forficata, and no other State has adopted the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher as it's State bird; and
WHEREAS, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is of great economic value, its diet consisting almost entirely of insects of non-useful and harmful species, and it is protected throughout the year by law; and
WHEREAS, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is of striking and beautiful appearance, is graceful and attractive in flight, and is easily identifiable; and
WHEREAS, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, in appearance and habits commands both respect and admiration; and
WHEREAS, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has been endorsed as the official State Bird of Oklahoma by many ornithologists and biologists of the various colleges and universities of the State of Oklahoma, by societies devoted to the study and preservation of wildlife, and by authors nationally know for their contribution to the study of birds.
Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives and by the State Senate of the Twenty-third Legislature of the State of Oklahoma:
SECTION 1. Adopted as State bird. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Muscivora Forficata, is hereby designated and adopted as the State Bird of the State of Oklahoma.
SECTION 2. "Bird Day"--May 1st. May 1st of each year is hereby established as "Bird Day" in Oklahoma, to be commemorated in such manner as the Societies for the Preservation of Wildlife may prescribe, from time to time.

Approved May 26, 1951. Emergency.
[SECTION 1. codified in the Oklahoma Statutes in Title 25, Section 98.]
[SECTION 2. codified in the Oklahoma Statutes in Title 25, Section 87.]

Oklahoma Statute

Oklahoma Statutes, Title 25, Chapter 3, Section 25-98.

Title 25. Definitions and General Provisions.
Chapter 3 - State Emblems and Honorary Positions.
SECTION 25.98.

The scissor-tailed flycatcher, Muscivora Forficata, is hereby designated and adopted as the state bird of the State of Oklahoma.
Laws 1951, p. 356, ยง 1.

Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Kingdom Animalia -- animals
Phylum Chordata -- chordates
Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
Class Aves -- birds
Order Passeriformes --
Family Tyrannidae
Genus Tyrannus -- kingbirds
Species Muscivora forficata
Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:  Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.
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