Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina

Morphology 5

A beautiful sparrow with an emerald-green head and back with violet tints around the edges of the green, onto the wings and particularly strong violet on the top of the tail. It has a white belly that extends to the cheeks of the face and over the eye, as well as being white on the sides of the rump. Is 13.3 cm/5.25 in in length. Juveniles have no color and are grey, but still with a white belly. The colors increase as the bird ages.

Sibley, D. A. 2000. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Andrew Stewart Publishing, Inc., Toronto.

Diet 6

Similar to other swallows, violet-green swallows are specialized aerial insectivores, catching and eating their prey while in flight. However, they have been known to feed higher in the sky than most other swallows.The examination of the stomach contents of multiple individuals has presented a wide range of diet items, including insects like ants, beetles and flies as well as other arthropods such as spiders. On rare occurrences these birds have been observed foraging along the ground, but such events represent exceptions to their typical feeding habits.

Sunbathing 6

In addition to reaching borderline hypothermic temperatures during bouts of torpor, violet-green swallows have been observed behaving similar to hyperthermic individuals while sunbathing. Indications of this activity include the orientation of their wings and tail, their trance-like state and the occasional loss of balance. Research has shown that increasing feather temperatures during basking can control ectoparasites. The period of sunbathing in violet-green swallows is short and dependent on ambient temperature and wind velocity, but typically occurs after an increase in parasite loads near the end of nesting.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Len Blumin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  2. (c) Noël Zia Lee, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  3. (c) Andrew Reding, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  4. (c) Jerry Oldenettel, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  5. (c) Yukon Conservation Data Centre, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  6. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Animal Bird
Color green, grey, purple, white
Bird Hirundinidae (swallows)