Under House Joint Resolution Number 21, signed into law on May 26, 1951, the scissor-tailed flycatcher (earlier called Muscivora forficata, now called Tyrannus forficatus) became Oklahoma's state bird. Despite a failed first attempt to make the bird the official symbol, the scissortail was eventually chosen for its diet of harmful insects, its Oklahoma-centered nesting range, and by the fortunate circumstance that no other state had designated it.
The bird's Latin name, forficatus, derives from its most notable physical trait, the fact that its tail is "forked like a pair of scissors." Although it can reach up to one foot in length, the striking, black-and-white tail is usually eight to ten inches long, with a fork that splits it six inches deep. The scissortail's body is soft gray with a white underbelly; the only bright colorings are splashes of red or pink under the wings where they join the body. The species's nesting range is confined to a relatively narrow belt running from southern Texas to southern Nebraska. During the summer months Oklahoma's official bird can be seen throughout the state.