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Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Stelgidopteryx serripennis ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: HIRUNDINIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A plain brown bird, the Northern Rough-winged Swallow is fairly common across the United States in summer. The species derives its name from the outer wing feathers, which have small hooks or points on their leading edges.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.7–5.9 in
12–15 cm
Wingspan
10.6–11.8 in
27–30 cm
Weight
0.4–0.6 oz
10–18 g
Other Names
  • Hirondelle à ailes hérissées (French)
  • Golondrina ala de sierra, Golondrina alirraspos, Norteña (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The function of the rough wing edge of the Northern Rough-winged Swallow is not known.
  • The barbs on the primary feathers of the male Northern Rough-winged Swallow are distinctly hooked; those of the female are smaller and straighter. Running a finger from base to tip along the barbed wing edge yields a sensation similar to that of touching a rough file.
  • The Greek genus name of the Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Stelgidopteryx, means "scraper wing;" the Latin species name, serripennis, means "saw feather."
  • In one documented case, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow pair nested inside a Civil War cannon.

Habitat


River/Stream

Breeds in a wide variety of open habitats, with openings in various vertical surfaces, including banks, gorges, and human structures.

Food


Insects

Flying insects.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
4–8 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse down.
Nest Description

Nests in burrows or cavities in various substrates. Probably uses burrows made by other species, but may dig its own nest.

Nest Placement

Burrow

Behavior


Aerial Forager

Catches insects in flight, often close to ground or water surface.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Generally adapts well to environments affected by human activity. No specific conservation concern.

Credits

  • DeJong, M. J. 1996. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis). In The Birds of North America, No. 234 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Northern Rough-winged Swallow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings