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Northern Rough-winged Swallow - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Glen Tepke
Public Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 13 June 2003
Stelgidopteryx serripennis

Includes: Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow


Subspecies ridgwayi
Photo © by Tom Jenner
Mayan archaeological site, nesting in temples at Tikal in Guatemala, April 2004

12-15 cm (4.7-5.9 in)

  • Brown upperparts
  • Pale brown throat; rest of underparts paler but not white
  • White undertail coverts
  • Squared tail


Photo © by Stanley Jones
Brazos Bend State Park, Texas, USA, 20 April 2021

Two distinct cinnamon-brown wing-bars


Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow shows black distal undertail coverts.

Similar Species

Similar to Bank Swallow and immature Tree Swallow but has warmer brown upperparts and a dusky throat and breast. It lacks the breast band of the Bank Swallow and is larger.


Breeding Alaska and southern Canada southward throughout the USA through Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica; wintering to Panama.


Northern Rough-winged Swallow was in the past considered conspecific with Southern Rough-winged Swallow. Subspecies S. s. ridgwayi and S. s. stuarti recognized by some authors (Handbook of Birds of the World) as full species, Yucatan Rough-winged Swallow or Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow.


This is a polytypic species with six currently recognized subspecies[1].

  • S. s. serripennis:
Breeds from southeastern Alaska east to southern Quebec, south to central California and Florida; winters from Mexico and Florida south to central Panama.
  • S. s. psammochrous:
Breeds from southwestern United States (southern California east to southeastern Texas) and northern Baja California south to southwestern Mexico and perhaps El Salvador; winters from southernmost United States south to Panama, although southernmost breeding populations possibly resident.
  • S. s. fulvipennis:
Breeds southern Mexico (except Yucatán Peninsula), north to central Veracruz, and south to central Costa Rica; mainly resident, but some migrate south to central Panama.
  • S. s. burleighi:
Resident in the southern Yucatán Peninsula (northern Guatemala and Belize)
  • S. s. ridgwayi:
Resident in the northern Yucatán Peninsula (southeastern Mexico in northern Campeche, Yucatán, and central Quintana Roo)
  • S. s. stuarti:
Resident in southern Mexico (southern Veracruz, northern Oaxaca, and Chiapas), northern Guatemala, and northern Belize


Streams, lakes and river banks.



Nests in cavities near water, usually a burrow in dirt and 4-8 eggs are laid. Eggs are incubated by the female for 13 days, with another 20 days until fledging.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. De Jong, M. J. (2020). Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.nrwswa.01
  3. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. Northern_Rough-winged_Swallow in: All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/ Accessed on 18May 2020.

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1