Northern Rough-wing Swallow Photographs at the Nest Cavity, May 26, 2007
Yavapai County, Arizona
Photos by Greg Clark
Northern Rough-wing Swallows are cavity nesters and often use the burrows of animals for nest sites. At this location the probable cavity builder is the Rock Squirrel. Rock Squirrels have been common at this site near Skull Valley, Arizona for several years. About 10 swallows were present at this cut into a small hill for a railroad, and several cavitys were active with the adults bringing food to somebody inside. These photos were taken from too far way to see if a juvenile was inside, but it seems likely since two adults were busy bringing food to the nest.
This swallow is widely distributed in North American and down to Central America. nevertheless, finding a nest for this species is always unusual. In ten years of looking at this site there were no swallows present, much less nesting in the side of the hill cut.
An elegant bird, with soft browns, whites, and tans, the Northern Rough-wing Swallow may not be as colorful as a Violet Green Swallow, but it has considerable beauty in it's earth-tone combinations.
Here one of the adults flies off for more bugs for the hungry family to feed in the cavity.
Update: During repeat surveys in 2011 and 2012 the swallows, like before 2007, did not appear to be using this nest location.
Copyright Greg Clark, 2007