Types of Birds
The graceful, low flying, swooping, insect eating harbingers of spring, also known as swallows (family Hirundinidae) delight people around the world.
The American Birding Association (ABA) lists fifteen species appearing in North America, with a handful of species regular visitors.Approximately eighty species, divided into nineteen different genera have been identified, with eight species common to North America during the summer breeding season.
The Cave Swallow (etrochelidon fulva), the least common species keeps its range limited to South Texas.
Tree Swallows(Tachycineta bicolor), Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Stelgidopteryx), Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia), Cliff Swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) and Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) extend their range across most of North America, with each of their common names indicative of their particular habitat niche.
Completing the loop shows that Violet-green Swallows are Western species and Purple Martin's live primarily in the East, along with a small Western population.
North American swallows adapt to a variety of nesting sites, including areas around human population centers. Nesting habits differ among species with some building mud nests, others being cavity nesters, and still others easily taking to man-made nesting boxes.
Their adaptability, along with a consistent supply of insects available in all of their varied habitats, translates into healthy swallow populations across the board. In fact, the only possible swallow population problem might be with the San Juan Capistrano population, that has recently failed to appear during the town's annual March celebration.
Most people around the world associate swallows with the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), shown in the top picture.
With the exception of Australia and Antarctica, they live and breed around the world, often near residential areas, and of course, farm areas.
A long, forked tail differentiates the barn swallow from other swallow species. The six recognized subspecies also share the striking brown and blue top feathers. Belly feather color varies from light to dark shades.
The Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), famed bird of San Juan Capistrano, can also be found in many lowland, open areas throughout the United States and Canada during the summer months.
During the winter months they migrate as far south as South America.
They tend to be colony nesters, building mud nests on cliffs, under eaves, bridges and other protected spaces.
Steel blue back and head feathers, coupled with a white belly, differentiate the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) from other North American swallows.
They tend to migrate to the northern most fields and wetlands of Canada and the United States for breeding season, and they take easily to nesting boxes.
Small populations over winter in the southern most areas of the United States, south through Central America. The video shows a fledging tree swallow.
The green head and back feathers, with a tint of purple hue, separate the Violet-green Swallow from other North American swallow species.
Additionally, their range is limited to woodland areas of the West, including British Columbia.
© 2009-2012. Patricia A. Michaels