Bird GuideTyrant FlycatchersFork-tailed Flycatcher

At a Glance

This spectacular wanderer from the tropics occurs virtually every year in North America. Although it is impossible to predict just where it will appear, the majority of records are along the Atlantic Coast, and there are more records in fall than in other seasons. Most Fork-tailed Flycatchers reaching our area probably come from southern South America: long-distance migrants that have made major errors in navigation.
Perching Birds, Tyrant Flycatchers
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Saltwater Wetlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England
Direct Flight, Hovering

Range & Identification


10-16" (25-41 cm). Adult has long, flexible black tail streamers. Gray back contrasts with black head, dark wings. (Scissor-tailed Flycatcher has pale head, white in tail.) Young Fork-tails (and molting adults) have shorter tails, but show same pattern of head and back.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Mallard or Herring Gull
Black, Gray, White
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Forked, Long, Notched

Songs and Calls

Buzzy chattering song; call note a sharp sick or plik.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

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