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    Cave Swallow Life History


    Habitat GrasslandsNests in some natural or human-made structure (cave, sinkhole, building, silo, bridge, culvert). During the day forages over nearby open areas, often near water.Back to top


    Food InsectsFlying insects.Back to top


    Nest Placement

    Nest Building

    Nest Description

    Flattened cup made of mud pellets, sometimes with sides extending up and enclosing the bowl. May be covered, with a small entrance tunnel on one side. Lined with grass and plant fibers. Nest placed on a vertical wall, usually in twilight zone of cave or sinkhole. Colonial.

    Nesting Facts
    Clutch Size:1-5 eggs
    Egg Description:White, with fine dark spots.
    Condition at Hatching:Naked and helpless.
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    Behavior Aerial ForagerCatches insects in flight.Back to top


    Conservation Low ConcernCave Swallow populations grew significantly between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 3 million, with 79% spending at least part of the year in Mexico, and 29% breeding in the U.S. The species rates a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. As numbers have expanded, the species' range has also grown, and birds will use non-cave breeding sites, especially bridges and culverts under roads. Cave Swallow is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List. Back to top


    Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

    Partners in Flight. 2017. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

    Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon and W. A. Link. The North American breeding bird survey, results and analysis 1966-2015 (Version 2.07.2017). USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center 2017.

    Sibley, David Allen. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A Knopf, New York.

    Strickler, Stephanie and Steve West. 2011. Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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