Stelgidopteryx Serripennis – Northern rough-winged Swallow

Stelgidopteryx Serripennis - Northern rough-winged Swallow found in the US

Northern rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis is a migratory swallow with a tiny size. It is quite similar to the Southern Rough-winged swallow. The Rough-wing is a single bird, unlike the Bank Swallow, which nests in colonies. It is often observed alone or in small groups, even during migration, flying rapidly low over rivers or fields. The name ‘Rough-winged’ refers to the tiny serrations on the wing feathers’ outermost feathers.

Quick Overview: Stelgidopteryx Serripennis – Northern rough-winged Swallow
Body size: Around 5.5 in (14 cm) and a weight of 17 g (0.6 oz)
Main colors: Brown, White
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

Northern rough-winged Swallow Description

ThA little, stocky swallow with brown upperparts and whiter underparts, as well as a pale brown throat. The tail is squared off with white coverts on the underside. The name is derived from the small hooks present on the outer primary feathers.

Stelgidopteryx Serripennis - Northern rough-winged Swallow found in the US
Stelgidopteryx Serripennis – Northern rough-winged Swallow. Photo by: PEHart


These birds have a length of 5.5 in (14 cm) and a weight of 17 g (0.6 oz). Their wings could range from 11-12 in (28-30cm).


Insects. Feeds on a range of flying insects, including a vast variety of flies, wasps, winged ants, bees, true bugs, and beetles. Additionally, it consumes a variety of moths, caterpillars, mayflies, damselflies, and spiders.


In the vicinity of streams, lakes, and river banks, as well as arroyos in an arid land. Widespread across the open areas, but is most frequently seen near water, nesting in vertical dirt banks (as along stream banks, river bluffs, gravel pits). May also nest in the arid country near dry washes, but prefers to eat over water, fields, or dense vegetation.


Rough-winged Northern Swallows nest in burrows dug by other species, such as kingfishers, squirrels, and Bank Swallows, in clay, sand, or gravel banks, usually near bodies of water. Additionally, they nest in gutters, boxes, drainpipes, walls, and bridges. Northern Rough-winged Swallows are medium-distance migrants. Swallows generally migrate to Mexico and Central America in flocks of mixed swallow species. They come in April and depart late summer, just after the young fledge.

Stelgidopteryx Serripennis Scientific Classification

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

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 Northern rough-winged Swallow in the USA

Breeds over much of the continental United States, from southeastern Alaska and southern Canada southward. Winters in Southern California, along the Gulf Coast, and in southern Florida.

The Northern rough-winged Swallow can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, 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.

Stelgidopteryx Serripennis – Northern rough-winged Swallow

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