Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Back in November (yes, I’m that far behind), Jess and I met up at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for the grueling 2 mile hike to find the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. These beautiful flycatchers are normally found in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas during the summer. They are rare visitors to Florida, and when they do visit, they are usually down south in the Everglades or northern keys. Click an image to view larger.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

So we hiked into the refuge looking for the flycatcher, not realizing that he had taken up residence farther down the trail that we expected. Although it was a beautiful sunny, cool day for a hike, it was a long way in to find the flycatcher. A two mile hike is not something that I would normally struggle with. But when you add the camera, lenses and tripod, it can be a bit taxing to haul all that gear out there. Plus the trail is not exactly smooth and hard. Soft sand makes for a more difficult hike. Getting there wasn’t a problem as we were excited to find our quarry. But coming back out seemed to take days. Still, we had a great time as we always do when we get the chance to get together.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with breakfast.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher with breakfast.

Once we found the flycatcher, we kept wandering back and forth along the trail as he hawked insects and would land just far enough away from us that we couldn’t get any great shots.

A delicious wasp for breakfast!
A delicious wasp for breakfast!

Once he found his breakfast, he decided to play with his food for the photographers.

Don't play with your food!
Don’t play with your food!

We didn’t know it at the time, but there were actually 2 flycatchers out there. They were both seen the next day or so by others, but we didn’t see two of them. Well, at least we didn’t think we saw two of them. I actually found a sequence of shots where the other flycatcher is flying in the background while I’m shooting this flycatcher. The other flycatcher is quite blurry, but the long scissor-like tail was distinctive in the shots.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Finally this guy stopped to rest in a tree near us and allowed us to get some nice perched shots. Still, we were shooting at 700mm, but at least the crop wasn’t as severe in this image as in all the others.

Hopefully the flycatchers will return next winter. But if they do, I think I’ll need to hire a caddie to haul my gear out there next time. Either that or I’ll need someone to haul me back out after the shoot!


  • Scott Simmons

    April 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Pretty cool shots!

    • Michael

      April 28, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks, Scott! I wish I could have been closer…and maybe less windy too! 🙂

  • Jess Yarnell

    April 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Fun blog post! We’ll have to haul you and your gear out to Circle B more often this summer in preparation for next fall… 🙂

    • Michael

      April 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Well, that might qualify as torture!!! It’s hot during the summer! 🙂

  • Leon

    May 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    A pretty cool safari! You used a big boy lens for this one!

  • Liz

    June 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    These are amazing images, Michael!! Thanks you for sharing.

    • Michael

      June 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you for your kind comments, Liz.