Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina

A beautiful swallow of open woodlands, the Violet-green Swallow is found only in the American West.

Interesting Information

  • The Violet-green Swallow is very similar to the Tree Swallow, both in appearance and ecology, and their ranges overlap. However, it is more closely related to two other swallows found in the Caribbean: the Golden and Bahama swallows.

  • A pair of Violet-green Swallows was observed assisting a pair of Western Bluebirds in raising young. The swallows guarded the nest and tended the bluebird nestlings, and after the bluebirds fledged, the swallows used the nest site for their own young.


Adult Description

  • Length Range: 13-13 cm (5-5.25 in)

  • Weight: 17 g (0.6 oz)

  • Wingspan Range: 28-30 cm (11-12 in)

Small slender songbird.

White underneath and shiny greenish bronze on top.

Face white.

Small bill.

Long wings.

Sex Differences

Sexes Similar


Juvenile sooty gray on back, underparts washed with gray, face dusky. Yearling female greenish on back with brownish on crown and rump.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Breeds in open woodlands, especially at middle elevations


Catches insects in flight. May forage in large flocks.


Flying insects.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Tachycineta
Species: Tachycineta thalassina
    Subspecies: Tachycineta thalassina brachyptera
  Tachycineta thalassina lepida
  Tachycineta thalassina thalassina

Similar Species

  • Tree Swallow similar, but with bluish green back, white on face not reaching above eye, and white flanks not reaching up onto rump.

  • Bank Swallow with distinct brown band across chest.

  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow always with brown throat.

Bird Sound

Call a chirping series of "chee-chee" notes.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution


Violet-green Swallow

Taking flight