|Conservation status||Local populations vary with availability of good colony sites. Loss of such sites may be contributing to long-term declines in overall numbers.|
|Habitat||Near water; fields, marshes, streams, lakes. Typically seen feeding in flight over (or near) water at all seasons, even in migration. Nests in colonies in vertical banks of dirt or sand, usually along rivers or ponds, seldom away from water.|
Feeds almost entirely in flight. Often forages in flocks, and typically flies rather low, doing much feeding over water. Rarely feeds on ground, mainly in severe weather.
4-5, sometimes 3-7. White. Incubation is by both parents, 14-16 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 18-24 days after hatching.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 18-24 days after hatching.
Insects. Feeds on a wide variety of flying insects. Eats many flies (including house flies and crane flies), beetles, wasps, winged ants, small bees, and true bugs, plus some dragonflies, stoneflies, moths, caterpillars, and others.
Almost always nests in colonies in vertical banks of sand or dirt; may be along riverbanks, lake shores, road cuts, gravel pits, or similar sites. Often dense colonies, with entrances to holes no more than a foot apart. All the pairs in a colony may be synchronized in timing of their nesting activities. Nest site is in burrow excavated in steep bank. Both sexes help dig burrow, beginning by clinging to bank and digging with bill, later crawling inside burrow and kicking out dirt with feet. Burrows usually 2-3' long, sometimes 1-5' long. Nest at end of horizontal burrow is made of grass, weeds, rootlets, with a lining of feathers added after eggs are laid.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Migrates north relatively late in spring compared to other swallows. A long-distance migrant, wintering in lowlands of South America. In late summer, may gather in huge flocks before southward migration.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSharp, unmusical pret or trit-trit.
Learn more about this sound collection.