November Bird Group meeting


The group met at Barbara Jackson’s home to discuss these two birds (and other recent happenings in our bird-watching lives). In the USA/Canada, the Rough-winged Swallow is seen fairly regularly(including around the GTA), while the Cave Swallow is only found in Southern Texas/New Mexico. It is quite similar to the Cliff Swallow which does nest in Southern Ontario. The detailed notes below were put together by Carolyn Mancey.
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cave swallow2

 

There are 83-90 swallows species worldwide excluding Antarctic (depending on authority); live near houses and farms; forage in large groups and nest in colonies; avoid perching in foliage, therefore easily seen in open; most catch bugs in flight.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW CAVE SWALLOW
Names, History, Status:  (Mike) Petrochelidon fulva; Stelgidopterix ruficolis; gr. Stelgidos = scraper; ptteryx = wing, plus curved hooks on outer primaries; Pot rufus = reddish; aka Bridge Swallow, Gully Martin or Rough-wing. Names, History, Status:  (Mike) petrochedon fulva: Petro = gr. stone or rock referring to places where nests are built; chelidon = swallow; Lat. Feebera = reddish yellow; aka Buff-throated swallow, Cohulia Cliff Swallow, Cuban Cliff Swallow; population is increasing and expanding to Southwest; late-fall wanderers to Northeast increasing dramatically in frequency and abundance.  Expansion of breeding range is aided by willingness to nest in bridges and culverts.
Migration & Range:SE Alaska, most of NOrth America Migration & Range:Local north of U.S.; few nest in U.S.; Mexican and West Indies species; rarely seen on east coast; winters in tropics, Texas, New Mexico, Carlsbad Caves Ntl Park; range increasing in recent years.
Enemies, Courtship & Behaviour:Gregarious; do not gather in large flocks unlike Cave Swallow; slow and deliberate movement; Bird banding (7,851) only recovered .19% recovered; monogamous. Enemies, Courtship & Behaviour:  (Dana)Gregarious; population increase 10.8% annually; social; may share nest sites with other species; possible interbreeding?
Voice, Song & Food:Flight call a rough fzzzap or fzzzup; song slow series of notes similar to flight call; quiet overall compared to other swallows; forages silently. Voice, Song & Food:  (Athena)Eat “on the fly”; flight call higher-pitched, more clipped than Cliff Swallow, cha or chacha; song a sputtering series of short ch and cha notes interspersed with weak trills.
Nesting, Eggs & Habitat:Breeding habitat is near streams, lakes and river banks; nest in cavities near water; does not breed colonially; usually burrow in dirt or artificial sites (masonry holes); prefers kingfisher or other species holes; return to nest burrow if displaced; declining population due to weasels, pesticides, although successful in raising young; 4-8 eggs incubated by female for 13 days & another 20 days until fledging. Nesting, Eggs & Habitat:North American subspecies nest in caves, sinkholes and commonly man-made structures i.e. highway culverts; South American species prefer open areas such as cliffs and the side of buildings; Cup-shaped nest open at the top; 3-5 eggs; both sexes incubate eggs; blind at birth & can’t retain body heat; remain in nest 20-22 days; both parents feed nestlings insects throughout the day; only female develops brood patch; will use barn swallow nests; 2 species coexist at some nesting sites.
Comparison, Field Marks & Identifiers:Barbs pronounced on males, may be for attracting females; small, overall drab & stubby, somewhat roundly proportioned, “mouse” of a swallow – distinguished by its lack of distinction; when perched it is slightly larger and pudgier than the Bank Swallow, slightly smaller than Tree Swallow; plumage seems disheveled or shabby “rough”; most of bird is dull brown; belly is dirty, not bright white; immature bird has darker tail and rufous wing bars “just a stubby bran coloured swallow with a dirty chest and dingy white underparts”; in flight overall fairly compact and roundly contoured; wings are proportionately blunter than other swallows; tail is broad and blunt when closed but short and rounded when fanned or spread; plain dingy brown above, whitish below with a dirty chest showing no iridescence or paleness on the rump; flight a little slower and more casual than other swallows “a swallow that takes care of business without panache” – wing beats are slower, shallow and fluttery. Comparison, Field Marks & Identifiers:Small bird slightly smaller than a Cliff Swallow; somewhat short-headed & roundly contoured; buffy throat patch and dark forehead; rump patch not commonly seen when perched and is [reddish] or cinnamon tinged; in some light wing has a brownish cast; Florida Cave Swallows have richer darker colours below but no whit forehead; in flight the Cave Swallow shares the rounded contours, flight is more delicate; wing beats like the Rough-wing are fluttery; square or slightly notched tail.