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Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva (Hirundo fulva)


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Cave Swallow, adult on nest
credit: Alan Vernon/CCSA

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Family: Hirundinidae, Swallows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has bluish black cap and white-lined bluish black back. Has pale collar and pale reddish orange cheeks and throat; forehead is reddish orange (more extensive than in southwestern Cliffs). Rump is reddish buff and square-ended tail is dark. Underparts are mostly pale with darker spots on undertail coverts. JUVENILE Duller and less colorful than adult, with pale buff forehead and pale buff nape, throat and breast grading to whitish underparts.

Dimensions Length: 5 1/2" (14 cm)

Habitat Locally common summer visitor (mainly Mar-Aug), mostly to Texas, but range expanding; often feeds in vicinity of water. A few remain in southern Texas throughout year but most are presumed to winter in Central America.

Observation Tips Beware confusion with Cliff Swallow.

Range Florida, Southwest, Texas, Plains

Voice Utters a sharp che-wiit and various twittering notes.

Discussion Similar to Cliff Swallow, but separable with care. Reddish orange forehead distinguishes adult from all but southwestern Cliffs (unlikely to be encountered in east), and note paler throat and face generally, showing obvious contrast with dark cap. Juvenile Cave's pale face, throat, and nape are best features for separation from juvenile Cliff. Nests colonially, making mud nests in caves or under bridges. Sexes are similar.