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Merlin Bird ID

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    Violet-green Swallow

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    Violet-green Swallow

    Tachycineta thalassina
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Hirundinidae
    Basic Description

    These aerial insectivores perform acrobatic stunts over lakes and streams high in the sky in search of flying insects. Violet-green Swallows can look dark at first, but their true colors come to life when sunlight illuminates their metallic green backs and iridescent purple rumps. They are a common sight in the West in spring and summer, but they vanish to Mexico and Central America for the winter. They can be distinguished from other swallows by the white patches on the sides of their rump and their white cheeks.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Violet-green SwallowRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    One of the best places to look for Violet-green Swallows is to head out to a river, pond, or lake early in the morning and keep your eyes to the sky. Watch for birds swooping and twittering over the water snatching up insects. They tend to be in groups from 10 to over 100 and they often hang out with other swifts and swallows. To pick one out of the crowd look for the white saddlebags on the sides of the rump and a clean white belly. It can be difficult to get a good look at flying Violet-green Swallows, but you might have an easier time following one with your binoculars if you spot one a little bit further away. That way the swallow won't zip out of your field of view as soon as it enters. They often perch on power lines and dead trees, so you’ll be able to get a better look at perched birds in those spots.

    Other Names
    • Golondrina Verdemar (Spanish)
    • Hirondelle à face blanche (French)

    Backyard Tips

    If you live near an open woodland or lake, Violet-green Swallows may nest in your yard, especially if you put up a nest box or leave standing dead trees on your property. Nest boxes can be placed on buildings, live trees, dead trees, or a pole 9-15 feet above the ground. Because Violet-green Swallows often like to nest in small groups, consider putting up more than one nest box at least 30 feet apart. Find out more about nest boxes on All About Birdhouses, where you'll find plans to build your own nest box for Violet-green Swallows.

    • Cool Facts