Cliff Swallow: Small, stocky swallow, dark blue-gray upperparts, pale orange-brown rump, buff underparts. Forehead is white or buff while throat, sides of face are orange-brown. Crown is blue-black, bill is short and black. Tail is dark and squared. Legs and feet are gray. Catches insects in flight.
Range and Habitat
Cliff Swallow: Breeds from Alaska, Ontario, and Nova Scotia southward throughout most of U.S. except the southeast; spends winters in the tropics. Preferred habitats include open country near buildings or cliffs, lakeshores, and marshes.
The Cliff Swallow is a small bird largely found in North America and Mexico. It will also rarely be found in western Europe. Breeding and nesting grounds consist of large colonies, and females will often transplant their own eggs to other mothers in the colony. During winter months, the Cliff Swallow migrates to western South America in the region of Argentina and Venezuela. They prefer to nest in cliff areas, beneath overhangs, and will often nest on man-made structures such as dams and bridges. Their diet consists mainly of insects which are caught during flight. The current conservation rating of the Cliff Swallow is Least Concern.
Females are known to lay eggs in its own nest and then carry one of the eggs in its bill and put it in another female's nest.
The Cliff Swallow was first described in 1817 by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot, a French ornithologist.
When young leave their nests they congregate in large groups called creches. A pair of swallows can find its own young in the creche primarily by voice.
A group of swallows has many collective nouns, including a "gulp", "herd", "kettle", "richness", and "sord" of swallows.