Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)

Violet-green Swallow

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Hirundinidae | [latin] Tachycineta thalassina | [UK] Violet-green Swallow | [FR] Hirondelle emeraude | [DE] Veilchenschwalbe | [ES] Golondrina verde-violeta | [NL] Groene Zwaluw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tachycineta thalassina NA, MA w USA, w Canada
Tachycineta thalassina brachyptera
Tachycineta thalassina thalassina

Physical charateristics

Note the white patches that almost meet over the base of the tail. Dark and shiny above–
adults glossed with green and purple; clear white below. Separated from the Tree Swallow by its greener back and white patches on the sides of its rump. The white of the face partially encircles the eye .

Listen to the sound of Violet-green Swallow

[audio: Swallow.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 16 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America, Middle America : West USA, West Canada


Widespread when foraging; nests in holes in trees in open forests, mountains, canyons, towns.
During migration, often near water, as along rivers, lakes, coastline. Wide range of nesting habitats, mainly in semi-open situations, including aspen groves, pine forest, canyon walls, sometimes open prairie if nest sites exist. In Mexico, also in low d
esert, nesting in holes in giant cactus.


May nest in isolated pairs or in small colonies.
Nest: Site is in a cavity, usually an old woodpecker hole or natural cavity in tree, sometimes in hole or crevice in rock. Will use bi
rdhouses. In northwestern Mexico, will nest in holes in giant cactus. Nest (built by both sexes, with female doing most of work) is a cup of grass, twigs, rootlets, lined with many feathers.
Eggs: 4-6, rarely 7. White. Incubation is evidently mostly or entirely by the female, about 13-18 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings, but female often does more. Young leave the nest about 23-24 days after hatching. Parents continue to feed the young for some time after they leave the nest. 1 brood per
year, perhaps sometimes 2.

Feeding habits

Insects. Feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, such as flies, true bugs, wasps, winged ants, wild bees, beetles, moths, and many others.
Forages in flight, catching insects in the air. Often flies higher than other swallows, although it will feed low over ponds, especially in bad weather. Usually forages in flocks; may associate with other swallows or with White-throated Swifts. Food is s
wallowed in flight.


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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not 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.
Violet-green Swallow status Least Concern


Breeds from central Alaska, western Canada, south locally to mountains of Mexico. Winters California, Mexico, Central America. Migration:
Migrates in flocks. Very rarely overwinters north of Mexico, except for some on California coast. Spring migration very early, returning to Southwest in large numbers by February.

Distribution map

Violet-green Swallow distribution range map

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