The Bird Book/Swallows

The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed
Swallows: Family Hirundinidae


611. PURPLE MARTIN. Progne subis subis.

Range. Breeds throughout the United States and temperate British America; winters in South America.

These large, lustrous, steely-blue Swallows readily adapt themselves to civilization and, throughout the east, may be found nesting in bird houses, provided by appreciative land owners or tenants; some of these houses are beautiful structures modelled after modern residences and : x

tenanted by twenty or thirty ,,., pairs of Martins; others are plain, unpainted soap boxes or the like, but the birds seem to take to one as kindly as the other, making nests in their compartments of weeds, feathers, etc. They also, and most commonly in the west, nest in cavities of trees making nests of any available material. During June

  • WLz, "^t ^ or July, they lay from four to six white eggs;

size .95 x .65. Data. Leicester, Mass., June 16, 1903. 5 eggs in Martin house; nest of

Purple Martin grasses.



grass, mud,

61 la. WESTERN MARTIN. Progne subis hesperia.

Range. Pacific coast from Washington south.

The nesting habits, eggs, and birds of this form are identical with those found In the east.

611.1. CUBAN MARTIN. Progne cryptoleuca

Range. Cuba and southern Florida (in summer).

Slightly smaller than the Purple Martin and the eggs average a trifle smaller.

6*12. CLIFF SWALLOW. Petrochelidon lunifrons lunifrons.

Range. -Whole of North America, breeding north from the south Atlantic and Gulf States.

These birds can easily be recognized by their brownish throat and breast, whitish forehead and buffy rump. They build one of the most peculiar of nests, the highest type being a flask shaped structure of mud securely cemented to the face of a cliff or under the eaves of a building, the entrance being drawn out and small, while the outside of the nest proper is large and rounded; they vary from



Cliff Swall

this typical nest down to plain mud platforms, but are all warmly lined with grass and feathers. In some localities, cliffs resemble bee hives, they having thousands of these nests side by side and in tiers. Their eggs are creamy white spotted with reddish brown; size .80 x .55 with great variations. Data. Rockford, Minn., June 12, 1890. Nest made of mud, lined with feathers; placed under the eaves of a freight house.

[612.1.] CUBAN CLIFF SWALLOW. Petrochelidon fulva.

Range. West Indies and Central America; accidental on Florida Keys.


Hirundo erythro

Barn Swallow

613. BARN SWALLOW. gastra.

Range. Whole of North America; winters south to South America.

This Swallow is the most beautiful and graceful of the family, and is a familiar sight to everyone, skimming over the meadows and ponds in long graceful sweeps, curves and turns, its lengthened outer tail feathers streaming behind. Throughout their range, they nest in barns, sheds or any building where they will not be often disturbed, making their nests of mud and attaching them to the rafters; they are warmly lined with feathers and the outside is rough, caused by the pellets which they place on the exterior.

Before the advent of civilized man, they attached their nests to the sides of caves, in crevices among rocks and in hollow trees, as they do now in some localities. Their eggs cannot be distinguished from those of the Cliff Swallow. Data. Penikese Is., Mass., July 2, 1900. Nest on beam in sheep shed; made of pellets of mud, lined with feathers.

614. TREE SWALLOW; WHITE-BELLIED SWAL LOW. Iridoprocne bicolor.

Range. Whole of temperate North America, breeding from middle United States northward; winters in the Gulf States and along the Mexican border and southward.

This vivacious and active species is as well known as the last, and nests about habitations on the outskirts of cities and in the country.

Ti-ee Swallow


They naturally nest in holes in trees or stumps, preferable

in the vicinity of water, but large numbers now take up

their abode in houses provided for them

by man, providing that English Sparrows

are kept away. They make their nests of

straws and grasses, lined with feathers,

and lay four to six plain white eggs;

size .75 x .50. Data. Portage, Mich.,

May 26, 1897. Nest in a gate post; hole

about 6 inches deep, lined with feathers.

6 15. NORTHERN VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW. Tachycineta thalassina lepida.

Range. United States in the Rocky Mountains and west to the Pacific coast, breeding from Mexico to British Columbia; winters south of our borders.

This very beautiful species is smaller than the last, but, like it, is white below, but the upper parts are blue, green and purple without gloss. ^7*^- ~.^ They are common in their range and /%. nest, usually in holes in trees, less often in banks and under eaves; the nests are made of grass and feathers, and the eggs are pure white, four or five in number; 615 616 size .72 x .50.


6'1 5a. SAN LUCAS SWALLOW. Tachycineta thalassina brachyptera.

Range. Southern Lower California. Practically the same bird as the last but with the wing very slightly shorter. Nesting habits or eggs will not differ.

[615.1.] BAHAMAN SWALLOW. Callichelidon cyaneoviridis.

Range. Bahamas; casual at Dry Tortugas, Florida.

This very beautiful species is similar to the western Violet-green Swallow, as are also its eggs.

6l6. BANK SWALLOW. Riparia riparia.

Range. Whole of North America, north to the limit of trees, breeding from the middle portions of the United States northward; winters south of our borders.

This dull-colored Swallow is grayish above and white below, with a gray band across the breast, they breed in holes in embankments, digging small tunnels from one to three feet in ^4'* length, enlarged and lined at the end with grass and feathers. During May, June or July, according to latitude, they lay from White four to six pure white eggs; size .70 x .50.

ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW. Stelgidopteryx serripennis.


Range. United States, breeding from Mexico north to southern New England, Manitoba and British Columbia; winters south of our borders.

This species is slightly larger than the last and similar but with the throat and breast grayish and with the outer web of the outer primary provided with recurved hooks. They nest in holes in embankments, in crevices in cliffs or among stones of bridges or buildings. Their eggs are like those of the

Bank Swallow but average a trifle larger; size .75 x .52.