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Tree Swallow

Silhouette SwallowsSwallows
Tree SwallowTachycineta bicolor
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Hirundinidae

Basic Description

Handsome aerialists with deep-blue iridescent backs and clean white fronts, Tree Swallows are a familiar sight in summer fields and wetlands across northern North America. They chase after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns, their steely blue-green feathers flashing in the sunlight. Tree Swallows nest in tree cavities; they also readily take up residence in nest boxes. This habit has allowed scientists to study their breeding biology in detail, and makes them a great addition to many a homeowner’s yard or field.

More ID Info
image of range map for Tree Swallow
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Tree Swallows are easy to find in much of North America from spring through fall. Head to open fields or marshes adjacent to bodies of freshwater. Scan the air for flying birds, look along utility wires and shrubs for perched birds. Also check any nest boxes you happen to see; in summer Tree Swallows spend lots of time sitting on or flying around them. Tree Swallows are vocal; listen for their sweet, chirping calls as they wheel around overhead in pursuit of insects. In the winter you can find Tree Swallows in the extreme southeastern and southwestern United States as well as south of the border.

Other Names

  • Golondrina Bicolor (Spanish)
  • Hirondelle bicolore (French)

Backyard Tips

Tree Swallows may supplement their insect diet with berries, such as fruit from bayberry and myrica shrubs. During the breeding season, when they need extra calcium to produce eggs, the swallows may search through backyard compost piles for pieces of eggshells to eat.

If you live in their breeding range, there’s a good chance you can attract Tree Swallows to your yard by putting up a nest box. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

  • Cool Facts