Birding for Beginners - Cliff Swallow

May. 14, 2014


Avian Architect

In Ohio flocks of Cliff Swallows often swarm around bridges and overpasses in summer. Clusters of complex mud nests cling to vertical walls and in this video you will see how they do it. Here are a few tips on identifying Cliff Swallows.
Size & Shape - These compact swallows have pointed, broad-based wings, a small head, and a medium-length, squared tail.

Color Pattern - In good light you’ll see their metallic, dark-blue backs and pale, pumpkin-colored rumps. They have rich, brick-red faces and a bright buff-white forehead patch like a headlamp.

Behavior - Cliff Swallows fly around in sophisticated aerial patterns to catch insects on the wing. When feeding in flocks with other species of swallows, they often stay higher in the air.

Habitat - Cliff Swallows traditionally built their nests on vertical cliff faces and they have accepted bridges, overpasses, and culverts as their nesting sites. They feed in areas near and over water, frequently mixing with other species of swallows.

Field Marks - Small, stocky swallow, Squared tail, Tawny rump, White forehead contrasts with dark cap and chestnut throat.