Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Hirundinidae | [latin] Stelgidopteryx serripennis | [UK] Northern Rough-winged Swallow | [FR] Hirondelle a scies | [DE] Nordliche Rauhflugel-Schwalbe | [ES] Golondrina ala de sierra | [NL] Noordamerikaanse Ruwvleugelzwa


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Stelgidopteryx serripennis NA, MA widespread
Stelgidopteryx serripennis burleighi
Stelgidopteryx serripennis fulvipennis
Stelgidopteryx serripennis psammochrous
Stelgidopteryx serripennis ridgwayi
Stelgidopteryx serripennis serripennis
Stelgidopteryx serripennis stuarti

Physical charateristics

Brown-backed ; lighter brown than Bank Swallow; throat dusky; no breastband. Flight unlike Bank Swallow’s, more like Barn Swallow’s; wings pulled back at end of stroke.

Listen to the sound of Northern Rough-winged Swallow

[audio: Rough-winged Swallow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 27 cm wingspan max.: 30 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 19 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 8  


North America, Middle America : widespread


Near streams, lakes, river banks, also arroyos in dry country.
Widespread in any kind of open country, but most commonly near water, nesting in vertical dirt banks (as along streambanks, river bluffs, gravel pits). May also nest along dry washes in arid country, but usually feeds over water, fields, or dense brush.


Unlike Bank Swallow, does not form colonies, although several pairs may nest in favorable site. In courtship, male flies after female, spreading the white feathers under the base of his tail so that they are prominently displayed.
Nest: Site is usually in burrow in vertical dirt bank; may be bank along running stream, or road cut or similar bank miles from water. Birds may dig tunnel themselves, 1-
6′ long, or use old burrow of Bank Swallow, kingfisher, or rodent. Sometimes in other kinds of cavities, such as drainpipe, culvert, crevice in bridge support. Bulky nest at end of burrow made of t
wigs, weeds, bark fibers, lined with finer grasses, occasionally with fresh horse manure added.
Eggs: 5-7, sometimes 4-8. White. Incubation probably by female, 12-16 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 19-21 days after hatching. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Insects. Feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, including many flies, was
ps, winged ants, bees, true bugs, and beetles. Also eats some moths, caterpillars, mayflies, damselflies, spiders, and various other items.
Forages mostly in flight, patrolling over rivers, ponds, and fields in swift flight, pursuing insects and catching them in its short but wide bill. Usually forages low. Often solitary in foraging, but may join concentrations of other swallows at good fee
ding areas.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow status Least Concern


Southern Canada to Costa Rica. Winters Gulf Coast to Panama. Migration: Generally an early migrant in spring. In parts of the Southwest it is absent mainly in late fall, reappearing in January or even late December.

Distribution map

Northern Rough-winged Swallow distribution range map

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