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Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina

Violet-green Swallow, photo © by Michael Plagens

Arizona Sycamores often shed branches leaving what seems to be most perfect nest holes for many birds including Vioet-green Swallows. Along Sycamore Creek in the western foothills of the Mazatzal Mountain, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. May 2010. Notice the glimpse of white just above the tail.

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violet-green swallow photo © Wolfgang Wander (Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) By the end of April or May, Violet-green Swallows return to Arizona's sycamore canyons from wintering grounds in tropical America. They feed on mostly small, soft-bodied flying insects which they capture on-the-wing. Watch swallows carefully and see them veer suddenly up, down, left or right in rapid succession. Each maneuver caught a tiny morsel and several more bugs are lined up to be swallowed in succession. These food packets are very small so the birds need to catch many of them and that also means staying on the wing most all their waking hours, hunting.

The head and back are irridescent green to violet (depending on light direction) while the chest and belly are snow white. The Violet-green Swallow has white nearly wrapping above the rump whereas the similar Tree Swallow does not.

Summer Resident - Migration to Neotropics for winter months

Hirundinidae -- Swallow Family

More Information:

Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons
The Fauna of Arizona's Sycamore Canyons


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2011