Do swallows live in the US?

Answered by Edward Huber

Swallows do live in the United States. There are eight species of swallows that regularly breed in North America. These birds are known for their swift and agile flight patterns, as well as their distinctive forked tails.

1. Bank Swallow: The bank swallow is a small swallow species that typically nests in burrows along sandy riverbanks or cliffs. They are known for their habit of digging nesting holes in vertical or near-vertical banks.

2. Barn Swallow: The barn swallow is perhaps the most well-known and widespread swallow species in North America. These birds are easily identified by their deeply forked tails and vibrant blue upperparts. They often build their cup-shaped nests in barns, sheds, or under bridges.

3. Cave Swallow: As the name suggests, the cave swallow is known for nesting in caves or similar structures. They have a more uniform appearance compared to other swallows, with a brownish-gray coloration on their upperparts.

4. Cliff Swallow: Cliff swallows are known for their distinctive mud nests that they build on cliffs, bridges, or under the eaves of buildings. These nests are shaped like gourds and are often clustered together in large colonies.

5. Northern Rough-winged Swallow: The northern rough-winged swallow is a smaller swallow species that is named for the tiny serrations on the leading edge of its outer flight feathers. They typically nest in burrows or crevices in cliffs, banks, or man-made structures.

6. Purple Martin: The purple martin is the largest swallow species in North America and is known for its glossy, dark plumage. Unlike other swallows, purple martins are highly dependent on human-provided housing, such as large multi-compartment birdhouses known as “martin houses.”

7. Tree Swallow: Tree swallows are widespread across North America and are commonly found nesting in tree cavities or nest boxes. They have iridescent blue-green upperparts and white underparts.

8. Violet-green Swallow: The violet-green swallow is a striking bird with shiny violet and green feathers on its upperparts. They often nest in natural tree cavities, as well as old woodpecker holes or nest boxes.

As an avid birdwatcher, I have had the pleasure of observing many of these swallow species in their natural habitats. I remember one summer when I visited a cliff swallow colony under a bridge. The air was filled with the constant chattering and swooping of the swallows as they skillfully caught insects in mid-air. It was a truly mesmerizing sight.

Swallows do indeed live in the United States. Each species has its own unique nesting habits and characteristics, but all share the common trait of being superb aerial acrobats. Their presence adds beauty and vitality to our natural landscapes, and observing them in action is always a treat for bird enthusiasts.