NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW(Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Northern Rough-winged Swallow is dark brown on top. Throat and breast are white with some grey-beige wash. There are stiff recurved hooks on the wing primaries (hence the name). Under parts are white. Eyes, bill, short legs and feet are black. Gape is large. Sexes are similar except that female has shorter wing hooks. Juvenile has faint rufous wing bars. Bird length is about 12 cm (5 inches). There are six subspecies.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Stelgidopteryx-serripennis
NAME: ‘Rough-winged’ stems from the ‘serrations’ on some wing feathers. ‘Swallow’ refers to the bird’s feeding behavior, by swallowing insects with a wide open mouth while flying. Latin genus name ‘Stelgidopteryx’ refers to the stiff recurved hooks on the wing primaries. Latin species name ‘serripennis’ means ‘saw’ and ‘wing’, again in reference to another wing feature.
HABITAT: Open country near water (river banks, lakes, arroyos), gravel pits.
DIET: Insects caught on the fly.
NESTING: Nest is at end of a tunnel in a vertical surface, may be an old one from a kingfisher at times. Between five and eight white eggs are laid, incubated likely by female. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in southern Canada and the contiguous USA. Some very rare breeders have been identified in southern New-Brunswick. Winters in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_rough-winged_swallow – /media/File:Stelgidopteryx_serripennis_m
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far in spring, summer and fall. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Numbers may have increased locally thanks in part because of nesting in man-made structures. Currently not at risk.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/northern-rough-winged-swallow
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_rough-winged_swallow
https://txtbba.tamu.edu/species-accounts/northern-rough-winged-swallow/ (Texas Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-rough-winged-swallow
https://birdatlas.mb.ca/accounts/speciesaccount.jsp?sp=NRWS&lang=en (Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Rough-winged_Swallow/lifehistory
http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/190/overview/Northern_Rough-winged_Swallow.aspx

Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Little Creve Coeur Marsh, MO - Apr. 2016 - photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren
Northern Rough-winged Swallow – Little Creve Coeur Marsh, MO – Apr. 2016 – photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Pike Island, MN - May 2017 - photo by Hamma085
Northern Rough-winged Swallow – Pike Island, MN – May 2017 – photo by Hamma085
Northern Rough-winged Swallow in flight - Arizona - Mar. 2017 - photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren
Northern Rough-winged Swallow in flight – Arizona – Mar. 2017 – photo by Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren

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