CLIFF SWALLOW


Petrochelidon pyrrhonota


Description:

As its name implies, Cliff Swallows originally nested on protected cliffs. But the proliferation of manmade structures has allowed this bird to increase its nesting options and range. Many adults will return to the same colony nest site year after year. This is the swallow that returns annually around March 19th to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. The introduction of the House Sparrow, which will steal the nest and destroy eggs, was devastating to this bird.


Appearance:

Blackish or dull steel-blue upperparts, cap, and throat. Buff-white underparts. Pale buff or orange rump and forehead. Sides of its neck are chestnut brown. Tiny black bill. Square edged tail. Sexes similar. Juveniles duller than adults. 5 inches in length.


Habitat:

Open areas near cliffs, bridges, dams, buildings, and other such structures.


Nesting:

4-6 white eggs. The eggs have a 14-16 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 21-24 days. The nest is a gourd-shaped mud structure lined with feathers. Nests in colonies under bridges and on sheltered cliff faces.


Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Santa Ysabel Mission, Santa Ysabel
  • Under Hwy 52 bridge at W Hills Pkwy, Santee





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.