My Bantam Lake

Cliff Swallow

Written on 06/10/2018

Petrochelidon pyrrhonota

The Cliff Swallow is a compact swallow with pointed, broad wings, a small head, and a squared tail. In good light, adults have metallic, dark-blue backs and pale, cinnamon rumps. Their face is rusty with a white forehead. Some juveniles show whitish throats in summer and fall. They are approximately 13 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of 28 to 30 centimeters. Cliff Swallows fly in intricate aerial patterns to catch insects midair. They build mud nests in colonies on cliff ledges or under bridges, eaves, and culverts. They feed in areas near and over water, frequently mixing with other species of swallows. They are of low conservation concern.

Fun facts:

  • Further towards the west, Cliff Swallows have been known to number up to 3,700 nests in one spot.
  • Distinctive facial markings of juvenile young help parents recognize their chicks by sight. They are also able to recognize each other by voice.
  • The oldest recorded Cliff Swallow was a male who lived to be 11 years, 10 months old.


Source: Cliff Swallow Overview and Identification Information, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology