Tyrannus verticalis x forficatus
Status: No accepted records.
Comments: Western Kingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher are known to hybridize, generally where range expansion of either or both brings them into contact (Worm et al 2019). These authors found evidence for gene flow between these species, but although genetic analyses of their sample (N= 84) did not yield first generation hybrids, there were “several backcrosses (in both directions)” (Worm et al 2019). As of 2022, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is an annually occurring but rare breeder in southern Nebraska, and Western Kingbird breeds essentially statewide, and so hybrids and backcrosses might be expected to be produced there on occasion.
There are three Nebraska instances of pairings between Western Kingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, including one where young may have been produced, but not identified. A female Western Kingbird mated with a male Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Lincoln, Lancaster Co in 1921, but the nest was abandoned and taken over by House Sparrows (Swenk and Dawson 1921). A male Western Kingbird that had been observed in the summers of 1926 and 1927 in Logan Co mated with a female Scissor-tailed Flycatcher one of the years (Glandon and Glandon 1935). In Keith Co in 1994 adults of each species were tending a nest together; the nest was destroyed by grackles before the plumages of the young could be determined (Brown et al 1996).
A cautionary note (Wayne Mollhoff, personal communication) to observers is to follow up on such apparent pairings; two separate adult Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were photographed early in the 2017 nesting season at McCook, Red Willow Co but later observations found only a female and on 28 Jun the abandoned nest with four eggs that were infertile. There were 3-4 pairs of Western Kingbirds in the immediate area (Wayne Mollhoff, personal communication).
Additional examples of hybridization with Eastern Kingbird and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher elsewhere are given in Gamble and Bergin (2020).
Brown, C.R., M.B. Brown, P.A. Johnsgard, J. Kren, and W.C. Scharf. 1996. Birds of the Cedar Point Biological Station area, Keith and Garden Counties, Nebraska: Seasonal occurrence and breeding data. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 23: 91-108.
Gamble, L.R. and T.M. Bergin. 2020. Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.weskin.01.
Glandon, E.W., and R. Glandon. 1935. Further additions to the list of Logan County birds. NBR 3: 29-31.
Swenk, M.H., and R.W. Dawson. 1921. Notes on the distribution and migration of Nebraska birds I. Tyrant Flycatchers (Tyrannidae). Wilson Bulletin 33: 132-141.
Worm, A.J., D.V. Roeder, M.S. Husak, B.L. Fluker, and T. J. Boves. 2019. Characterizing patterns of introgressive hybridization between two species of Tyrannus following concurrent range expansion. Ibis 161: 770-780. https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12674.
Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2022. Western Kingbird x Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (hybrid) (Tyrannus verticalis x forficatus). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org
Updated 6 Sep 2022