Cliff Swallow

Scientific Name: Petrochelidon Pyrrhonota

Diet: Cliff Swallows feed almost exclusively on flying insects, which they catch on the wing.

Habitat: Cliff Swallows inhabit open areas with cliffs or buildings nearby. These places include farmlands, parks, prairies, and wetlands. On migration they are found on shores of lakes and in marshland.

Range: Cliff Swallows breed in almost all of North America, but in the South East  and in parts of Mexico, they are only present during migration. They can be found in Washington during the breeding season.

Sound: Cliff Swallow’s call is a chatter consisting of chirps, twitters, and many various other sounds.

Nesting: Cliff Swallows nest in colonies. The nests are placed on vertical walls, usually right under an overhang. The nest is made of mud which is collected by both the male and the female. They form it into a domed cup with an entrance hole on the side. The nest is lined with grass. These swallows lay 4-6 eggs, which they incubate for 14-16 days. When the chicks hatch, they are helpless and have no down.

Behavior: Like many swallows, Cliff Swallows catch insects in flight, and are often seen flying high in the air catching flying insects.

Description/Field Marks: Cliff Swallows are about 5 inches long, and they have wingspans of about 11 inches. They weigh about 1 ounce.  Cliff Swallows look very similar to Barn Swallows, but there are a few differences. One is that Cliff Swallows have square tails, whereas Barn Swallows have deeply forked tails, and another is that Cliff Swallows have more whiteish-beige undersides, and barn swallows have more brown undersides. Also, Cliff Swallows have white foreheads. Their backs and wings are blueish or greyish, and their rumps are orangish brown.

Cliff Swallow Nests

Cliff Swallow Nests


This entry was posted in swallows. Bookmark the permalink.