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swallowViolet-Green Swallow

Identification and Pictures

Violet-Green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) 

Tree SwallowViolet-Green swallows are about 5 1/4 inches.  They are often mistaken for Tree swallows.  One way to tell the difference is Tree swallows have no white above the eye.  When the birds are perched the wings of Violet-green swallows extend beyond the tail, and they don't on Tree Swallows.  Adults have an iridescent violet-green helmet, and back.  The rump is purple with white below.  The white patches almost meet over the base of the tail.  Below the green helmet the face is white, and the white almost circles the eyes.  The females and young are a little duller.   

 Photo by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D and a 70 to 300 zoom lens.

Swallow Family

As with all swallows they are streamlined, and very graceful flyers.  Identifying characteristics are short legs, tiny feet, long pointed wings, and short wide bills.


Violet-Green swallows may live in small colonies, or just as single pairs.  They can be found in a variety of habitats from forests, wetlands, prairies, and cities.  The birds are very social, and are often seen in flocks with other swallows.

Breeding and Nesting

They breed from April through July, and nest in holes in cliffs, and trees in open forests, woods, canyons, mountains, and in towns.  They often use birdhouses.  The nest is built of grass, straw, and string, and is lined with feathers, and is built by both birds.  Females will incubate 4 to 6 pure white eggs for around 14 days.  Both parents will feed the nestlings.  The birds will usually only have one brood but have been known to have a second.  The young fledge in 23 to 25 days, but the parents will continue to feed them for a while.  If swallows start nesting in your birdhouse they, and their young will most likely return to nest again.swallow egg


The sound they make is a rapid chit-chit, and high cheep cheep.  They also make a series of notes like wheet wheet given in flight.



Swallows eat mostly insects, and are constantly swooping through the air for their prey.

Barn-swallow-young Get Swallow posters

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