Merlin

Bank Swallow

ID Info
Silhouette SwallowsSwallows

Bank Swallow

Riparia riparia
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Hirundinidae
Basic Description

The svelte and speedy little Bank Swallow zips through the air with quick twists and buzzy wingbeats. Look for them in chattering nesting colonies dug into the sides of sandy cliffs or banks, or pick them out of mixed swallow flocks as they catch insects over the water. These birds occur on all the continents except Australia and Antarctica—but in North America their numbers have mysteriously plummeted since 1970, and they are recognized as a Common Bird in Steep Decline.

More ID Info
image of range map for Bank SwallowRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Look for nesting Bank Swallows in banks and bluffs along rivers and lakes, where they can occur in colonies of up to 2,000 nests. These birds stick to open, wet areas and steer clear of forested habitats. Their harsh, doubled call note is distinctive as they pass overhead. Also, remember that flocks of swallows often contain several species—so linger with big flocks and keep your eyes out for a slightly smaller, brown swallow with quick, fluttery wingbeats—then look for the neat brown band across the chest.

Other Names
  • Avión Zapador (Spanish)
  • Hirondelle de rivage (French)
  • Cool Facts