Swallows & Martins

Cliff Swallow

Cliff swallow, photo by Matt Tillett via Wiki Commons

Look For The cliff swallow is small bird with a tiny, black beak and a short, squared-off tail. The adult cliff swallow has a bluish-black back and crown with a dull yellowish-white patch on its forehead. It has a copper-red face, off-white underparts, and brown wings and tail. It also has a pale orange-brown rump… Read more

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern rough-winged swallow

Look For Only 5 to 51/2 inches long, the northern rough-winged swallow is brown-backed with dirty-white underparts, a short notched tail, and narrow pointed wings. The rough-winged swallow lacks the distinct dark breast band of the bank swallow. Its legs are short, and its feet adapted more for perching than for walking. For such a… Read more

Purple Martin

Purple martin photo by Shanthanu Bhardwaj / Wikimedia

Look for Our largest swallow (at 8 inches), the purple martin is a graceful flyer with a bubbly, liquid song. The adult male has a deep blue body and black wings and tail. Females and youngsters are gray and black with some blue on the back. In flight, martins can be confused with European starlings… Read more

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow (Photo: Creative Commons)

Look for One early naturalist estimated that a barn swallow that lived 10 years would fly more than two million miles, enough to travel 87 times around the earth. This species seems to define what it means to be at home in the air, and it has been compared to an albatross in its ability… Read more

Violet-green Swallow

Violet-green Swallow (Photo: Alan Vernon / Creative Commons)

The violet-green swallow closely resembles the tree swallow but is recognized by the large amount of white on the face and the conspicuous white patches at the sides of the rump. It is a western species, breeding from northern Alaska south throughout the West to the edge of the Great Plains. Although common, it is… Read more

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows (Photo: Bill Thompson, III)

Look for Long triangular wings, snow-white underparts, and glossy teal-blue upperparts make the tree swallow a beautiful signal of spring. Soaring kite-like, then rising with rapid flaps, they course and dive over meadows and ponds in their search for flying insects. Their jingling calls have been likened to the sound of someone shaking paperclips in… Read more

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