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Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: HIRUNDINIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A beautiful swallow of open woodlands, the Violet-green Swallow is found only in the American West.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.7 in
12 cm
Wingspan
10.6 in
27 cm
Weight
0.5 oz
14 g
Other Names
  • Hirondelle à face blanche (French)
  • Golondrina verde-violeta (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Violet-green Swallow is very similar to the Tree Swallow, both in appearance and ecology, and their ranges overlap. However, it is more closely related to two other swallows found in the Caribbean: the Golden and Bahama swallows.
  • A pair of Violet-green Swallows was observed assisting a pair of Western Bluebirds in raising young. The swallows guarded the nest and tended the bluebird nestlings, and after the bluebirds fledged, the swallows used the nest site for their own young.
  • The oldest recorded Violet-green Swallow was a male, and at least 9 years, 1 month old, when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.

Habitat


Open Woodland

Breeds in open woodlands, especially at middle elevations

Food


Insects

Flying insects.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
4–6 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with sparse down
Nest Description

Nest a shallow cup of grass, small twigs, rootlets, and straw placed in hole in tree, cliff cavity, or nest box. Lined with feathers.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Behavior


Aerial Forager

Catches insects in flight. May forage in large flocks.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Violet-green Swallows experienced small, but significant declines between 1966 and 2014. Overall, populations fell by 26% during this time, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 7 million with 66% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 91% in Mexico, and 16% breeding in Canada. The species rates an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Violet-green Swallow is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These birds' ability to nest in remote areas and near people has helped prevent large population declines.

Credits

  • Brown, C. R., A. M. Knott, and E. J. Damrose. 1992. Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina). In The Birds of North America, No. 14 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
  • Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I. Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2014. North American Breeding Bird Survey 1966–2014 Analysis.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.
  • Whittingham, L. A., B. Slikas, D. W. Winkler, and F. H. Sheldon. 2002. Phylogeny of the tree swallow genus, Tachycineta (Aves: Hirundinidae), by Bayesian analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 22: 430-441.

Range Map Help

Violet-green Swallow Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Backyard Tips

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

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