Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
There are several colonies of Cliff Swallows that reside in Bartlesville from April through the end of August. The rest of the year these birds live in South America. They live in colonies and build magnificent nests from mud pellets that are usually located under bridges or the eaves of buildings. Local colonies can often contain more than 200 birds.
Cliff Swallow near the Pathfinder Pathway in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Cliff Swallows are about 5 inches long and have a tiny bill. They have an iridescent blue black crown and their forehead is white or yellow brown. Their wings and tail are brown while their rump is yellow brown. They have a square-ended tail which makes them easier to distinguish from Barn Swallows and Purple Martins which otherwise look very similar. Their legs and feet are gray.
Cliff Swallow looking at me from its nest
Cliff Swallows feed off insects which they eat and capture in flight.
Cliff Swallows typically can live up to six years.
These are Cliff Swallow nests. They are gregarious birds and build their nests in colonies.
Cliff swallow nests are usually close to rivers or other bodies of water because the mud near the embankments are ideal for their nests. Their nests are lined with grass.
Cliff Swallows are the “miracle” swallows that return on March 19th each year to the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.