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Tree Swallow

From Opus

Photo © by JamesljOntario, Canada
Photo © by Jameslj
Ontario, Canada
Tachycineta bicolor


[edit] Identification

L. 5-6 1/4 in (13-16 cm)

  • Sparrow-sized
  • Metallic blue or blue-green above
  • Clear white below

Juveniles are dull brown above.

[edit] Similar Species

Young birds can be distinguished from Bank Swallow and Northern Rough-winged Swallow by their clearer white underparts.

[edit] Distribution

Sub-adultPhoto © by Stanley JonesAnahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas, USA, March 2018
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas, USA, March 2018

Breeds from Alaska east through northern Manitoba to Newfoundland and south to California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Maryland.
Northern limit to wintering range stretch from southern California to the Gulf Coast and the Carolinas; occasionally farther north along the east coast.

The main wintering range is from Florida along the Caribbean coast of Central and South America to north-west Venezuela.

Accidental vagrant to the UK and eastern Siberia.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Lake shores, flooded meadows, marshes, and streams, creeks.

[edit] Behaviour

It is the first of our swallows to reappear in the spring.
Tree Swallows often enjoy playing with a feather, which they drop and then retrieve as it floats in the air.
They gather in enormous flocks along the coast in fall, where they circle.

[edit] Breeding

Hole-nesters such as the Tree Swallow often face a housing shortage and must fight to get into, or keep, woodpecker holes or other sought-after nest sites. Man-made breeding boxes may help increase the numbers of these birds. The Tree Swallow almost invariably nests in the immediate vicinity of water. 4-6 white eggs in a feather-lined cup of grass placed in a hole in a tree or in a nest box

[edit] Diet

Insects caught on the wing. During winter, also feeds on berries.

This bird's habit of feeding on bayberries enables it to winter farther north than other swallows.

[edit] Vocalisation

Cheerful series of liquid twitters.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from

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