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Cliff Swallow - BirdForum Opus

Photo by forcreeks
Chiloquin, Oregon, May 2005
Petrochelidon pyrrhonota


5-6" (13-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. A stocky, square-tailed swallow with pale buff rump. Upperparts dull steel-blue; underparts buff-white; throat dark chestnut; forehead white.

Similar Species

Cave Swallow of Texas and Southwest is similar but smaller, with darker rump and pale buff throat. Mexican birds have chestnut foreheads.


Breeds from Alaska, Ontario, and Nova Scotia southward through most of United States (except Southeast) and in northern half of Mexico. Winters in South America.

Photo © by Stanley Jones
College Station, Texas, USA, 29 March 2021


Cliff Swallow has in the past been placed in genus Hirundo.

Photo by HelenB
Cliff Swallow nests on cliffs by the Rio Grande River, Big Bend National Park, Texas, April 2003


Four different subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • P. p. pyrrhonota:
  • P. p. ganieri:
  • Southern US westt of Appalachians (Tennessee to Texas); winters to South America
  • P. p. tachina:
  • South-western US to north-western Mexico and Baja; winters to South America
  • P. p. melanogaster:

melanogaster is sometimes included in pyrrhonota but those sources then recognize a form minima[2].


Open country near buildings or cliffs. Takes suburban area North ; lakeshores and marshes on migration.



Nesting: 4-6 white eggs in a gourd-shaped structure of mud lined with feathers and placed on a sheltered cliff face or under eaves. Also nests on road bridges in large colonies.


Constant squeaky chattering and twittering.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Lepage D. (2021) [Avibase - https://avibase.ca/1378C130 ]. Retrieved 2 April 2021

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External Links

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