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Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota (Hirundo pyrrhonota)


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Cliff Swallow
credit: Dori/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Hirundinidae, Swallows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has bluish black cap and white-lined bluish black back. Note the pale collar, reddish orange cheeks, and dark throat; forehead is white in most birds. Rump is buffy and square-ended tail is dark. Underparts are mostly pale with darker spots on undertail coverts. JUVENILE Duller than adult, with unmarked back; lacks reddish elements of facial plumage and has paler rump. Throat is dark (cf. juvenile Cave).

Dimensions Length: 5-6" (13-15 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly Apr-Sep) to a wide range of habitats. Winters in South America.

Observation Tips Easy to find.

Range Texas, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Southeast, Alaska, California, Eastern Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Great Lakes, Northwest, Western Canada, Plains, New England

Voice Utters various soft twittering notes.

Discussion Compact swallow with broad-based, triangular, and relatively short wings. Pale orange-buff rump, obvious in flight, is diagnostic across much of range, but beware of confusion with Cave Swallow within that species' limited North American range. Nests colonially, making mud nests on cliffs and manmade structures. Catches flying insects on the wing. Sexes are similar.