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Bank Swallow Riparia riparia


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Bank Swallow with nest cavities
credit: Ejdzej/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Hirundinidae, Swallows view all from this family

Description ADULT Has sandy gray-brown upperparts and mainly white underparts, with a striking, well-defined brown breast band. Division between brown cap and white throat is well defined. Tail is relatively long and slightly forked (appears unforked when fully fanned). JUVENILE Similar to adult, but with more obvious pale buff fringes to many wing feathers.

Dimensions Length: 4 3/4-5 1/2" (12-14 cm)

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

Observation Tips Easy to see, especially near water.

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

Voice Utters a buzzing alarm call; song is a series of abrupt, twittering notes.

Discussion Tiny hirundine and the smallest of its kind in the region. Often seen catching insects in rapid flight, with flicking wingbeats, low over water; often congregates where feeding is good. Typically nests colonially in burrows excavated in vertical sand or gravel banks and cliffs, beside rivers, and in quarries and excavations. Sexes are similar.