Tachycineta Thalassina – Violet-Green Swallow

Tachycineta Thalassina - Violet-Green Swallow found in the US

It is a member of the swallow family. These airborne insectivores are found from Alaska to Mexico, and east to Montana and Texas. These birds are distinguished from tree swallows by the white rump side-patches that appear to split their green back and purple tail. Violet-green swallows are cavity nesters found in deciduous and coniferous forests. They are often seen breeding in enormous rock crevices as well as in tree holes within similar settings.

Quick Overview: Tachycineta Thalassina – Violet-Green Swallow
Body size: Around 5-5.25 in (13-13.5 cm) and a weight of 17 g (0.6 oz)
Main colors: Green, White, Green-Tan, Violet
Range: Western United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Violet-Green Swallow Description

Male and female violet-green swallows have forked tails and average 13 cm in length. Their wings are much longer than their tails while perching. They have long, pointed bills for catching flying insects. Adult males have dark green rumps and white throats. Males have greenish-tan backs, iridescent violet rumps, white throats, and green crowns. Adult females have light-tan crowns and smaller heads and bills than adult males.

Tachycineta Thalassina - Violet-Green Swallow found in the US
Tachycineta Thalassina – Violet-Green Swallow. Photo by: Yellowstone National Park


These birds have a length of 5-5.25 in (13-13.5 cm) and a weight of 17 g (0.6 oz). Their wings could range from 11-12 in (28-30cm).


From March through September, violet-green swallows were fed in Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and California. The study found that violet-green swallows ate mostly insects. However, oats and carrot seeds were just a minor part of the diet of California violet-green swallows. Researchers believe this is a rare occurrence and that the violet-green swallows ate the seed off an ant. In this research, 10.57 percent of the diet consisted of beetles (order Coleoptera). Ants (superfamily Formicoidea) were consumed by the Violet-green Swallow from May to September. Except in April, Violet-green Swallows ate wasps and bees (order Hymenoptera) every month.


Migratory violet-green swallows like open areas near water, such as meadows and rivers. These settings feature mosses on the ground and flora that retains moisture within the tree canopy. Because violet-green swallows feed on flying insects that need damp soil to live, dry soil can reduce insect populations, affecting this species’ numbers. Violet-green swallows nest in cavities in many settings. In Mediterranean woodlands like California, they can exploit rotting trees or woodpecker holes to make their cavity nests.


Outside the mating season, violet-green swallows form foraging flocks. These flocks might number in the hundreds. During the mating season, both sexes defend their nests against competition. Despite this, they may breed in groups depending on resources. Violet-green swallows over-preen and sunbathe to prevent parasites. They bathe by flying over the water, softly brushing it with their feathers, then soaring up to shake it off.

Tachycineta Thalassina Scientific Classification

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

Best time of the year to see

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

Distribution of the Violet-Green Swallow in the USA

Breeds from Alaska to northern Mexico, passing through the Yukon and British Columbia, as well as the western states. Winters primarily south of the United States-Mexico border, with a few exceptions in southern California.

The Violet-Green Swallow can be found in the following states in the United States – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Tachycineta Thalassina – Violet-Green Swallow

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