Petrochelidon Fulva – Cave Swallow

Petrochelidon Fulva - Cave Swallow found in the US

The cave swallow, Petrochelidon fulva is a medium-sized, squarish-tailed swallow found in North America. It is a member of the same genus as the more recognized and widespread cliff swallow. Also endemic to the Americas, the cave swallow nests and roosts largely in caves and sinkholes. According to Birds of North America, five subspecies are officially recognized, three occurring in North America and two in South America.

Quick Overview: Petrochelidon Fulva – Cave Swallow
Body size: Around 5-6 in (13-15 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz)
Main colors: Black, Chestnut, Brown
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Cave Swallow Description

The Cave Swallow’s cap is frequently black, with a pale brown forehead, cheeks, and neck. Summer plumage is extremely weathered, which is smaller in size, has a darker overall color, and has a richer chestnut rump, sides, and neck.

Petrochelidon Fulva - Cave Swallow found in the US
Petrochelidon Fulva – Cave Swallow. Photo by: Phillyodes

Size

These birds have a length of 5-6 in (13-15 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz). Their wings could range from 12 in (30 cm).

Feeding

Throughout the day, cave swallows eat on small to medium-sized flying insects. They feed in loose flocks throughout open regions, through open vegetation, and along cliff cliffs.

Habitat

The cave swallow is a medium-sized, squarish-tailed swallow that is related to the more recognized and widespread cliff swallow seen in North America. Also endemic to the Americas, the cave swallow nests and roosts largely in caves and sinkholes.

Behavior

Walks seldom, especially when obtaining mud or other nest material on the ground. Although not proficient at climbing, they are capable of adhering to cave walls or other rough-surfaced structures.

Petrochelidon Fulva Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Hirundinidae
  • Genus: Petrochelidon
  • Species: Petrochelidon fulva

Subspecies

Five subspecies are currently recognized according to Birds of North America.

Best time of the year to see

 The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Cave Swallow in the USA

This species breeds in a large portion of Texas, extreme southeastern New Mexico, and on a very rare occasion, southern Arizona. Northern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and areas of the West Indies are all home to this species.

The Cave Swallow can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Petrochelidon Fulva – Cave Swallow

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