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Bank Swallow

Riparia riparia

Length: 4.75 inches Wingspan: 10.5 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Chocolate brown upperparts, white underparts with brownish band across chest.

Bank Swallow - Riparia ripariaThe Bank Swallow is the smallest of the swallows found in South Dakota.  Strongly associated with water bodies, they can often be found in colonies of nest burrows numbering up to 1000.  Despite their small size and tiny feet and bill, they build their own nest burrows which may reach 5 or 6 feet in depth.

Habitat: Generally found near water, both during breeding and in migration.  Nesting sites are vertical banks of dirt or sand, nearly always right along a water body.

Diet: Feeds exclusively on insects, nearly always on flying insects which are caught in flight.

Behavior: Forages almost exclusively by catching insects in flight.  Much of their in-flight foraging is quite low over water bodies, signaling their preference for some insect species associated with water.  Very gregarious, often found in large nesting colonies.

Nesting: June and July

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Bank Swallow photos

Song: A repetitive twit twit dreee rrr rrr rrr.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the U.S. and southern Canada.  Winters in South America.

Similar Species: Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.  They haven't benefited from a human presence as much as some other swallow species that will nest on man-made structures.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Bank Swallow

2) WhatBird - Bank Swallow

3) Audubon Guide - Bank Swallow

Photo Information: May 2nd, 2010 - Near Lake Thompson, Kingsbury County, South Dakota -- Terry L. Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Cliff Swallow photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Bank Swallow - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common summer breeder in the eastern part of the state, uncommon in the west.

Additional Bank Swallow Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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