Rich doesn’t think the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher exists. He’s gone with me on numerous outings to this open meadow, and we’ve never seen the bird. Other birders report it as an easy find, “sitting right out on the power line.” Well, I got there the other day and found him posed out in the open, right on a barbed wire fence. He does exist! He made up for his long absence by giving me some amazing photo opportunities!
Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are fairly rare in Florida. They usually hang out in the open meadows of Texas and in the south-central US. This bird, however, seems to like to winter in Apopka. He returns this field year after year. Birds amaze me.
Why is that rare birds tend to be fond of ugly human-made elements like barbed wire fences? I wanted to turn cartwheels when he moved over to a patch of lantana…
Can you imagine going through life with a tail that’s twice the length of your body? It sounds uncomfortable. Here’s another view of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher when he gave me a full tail-shot!
Flycatchers often perch on tall items, like power lines and fences, while they scan open fields for bugs. When they spot a bug, they dart off their perches, grab their prey in mid-air, and often return to the perch to eat. Like this insect, yum!
The real excitement of the morning was the opportunity for flight shots. I was using my car as a blind, and the bird was directly across from me. He perched on the fence and started flying down range, regularly hopping from one section to the next. So I put on my intermediate telephoto and tried to catch him in flight.
Angle is everything. When I was directly across from the bird, he was flying away from me. I re-positioned, moving a little farther away, but where he’d be flying towards me. I also perfected the technique of framing the shot to allow him room to fly into the frame. Here’s my favorite!
This last shot was a little blurry, but it definitely shows why this bird is called a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Look at how he spreads his tail in flight! So I took the blurry image and applied some artistic filters, trying to convey the feeling of the bird darting and soaring in mid-air. He was beautiful!! I can’t wait to go back. :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Apopka?
Check out my Lake Apopka page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!