Swallows are small, fast, aerial acrobats, swooping and diving through the air to catch flying insects. They are common in the park and often nest on the park's historic buildings. In addition to swallows, several swift species are found in the park, including Vaux's swift (Chaetura vauxi). Swifts are similar in appearance to swallows, but are in a completely different order, Order Caprimuliformes, the same order as hummingbirds.


Swallows - Order Passeriformes, Family Hirundinidae

A blue-orange swallow stands on wood shakes at the edge of a roof.
Barn Swallow

NPS Photo

Barn Swallow
Hirundo rustica

Habitat: forest
Seasons: common spring-fall
Size: length 6.75 in (17 cm), wingspan 15 in (38 cm)
Barn Swallow Calls

Barn swallows have dark blue backs and wings, and orange undersides (paler in females). They have a darker orange throat and an orange patch above the bill. Their long tails have a white band across them, and are deeply forked. The park's historic wood buildings provide many suitable nesting spots for these swallows.

A bright green swallow perches on a telephone line.
Violet-green Swallow

Crow Vecchio Photo

Violet-green Swallow
Tachycineta thalassina

Habitat: forest, subalpine
Seasons: common spring-fall
Size: length 5.25 in (13.3 cm), wingspan 13.5 in (34.3 cm)
Violet-green Swallow Calls

These brightly-colored swallows have iridescent green-purple feathers on the back, turning to black on the long wings. Wings project past the short tails. Violet-green swallows have white throats, breasts, and bellies. On the face, the white color wraps up and around the eye, which is one of the features that distinguishes it from the tree swallow. When flying, the white sides of the rump are also visible. Color is muted in females, and females can have less white on the face.

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Last updated: January 21, 2021

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