Violet-green SwallowTachycineta thalassina

adult male
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
Joe Fuhrman/VIREO
Laure W. Neish/VIREO
adult male
Thomas Grey/VIREO
Violet-green Swallow
Violet-green Swallow



5-5 1/2" (13-14 cm). Dark, metallic, bronze-green upperparts; iridescent violet rump and tail, the latter slightly forked; white underparts. White cheek extending above eye and white on sides of rump distinguish it from Tree Swallow.


A high dee-chip given in flight. Also a series of varying tweet notes.


calls #3
calls #2
calls #1 (song


Breeds in forests, wooded foothills, mountains, suburban areas.


Breeds from Alaska east to South Dakota, south to southern California and Texas. Winters mainly south of U.S.-Mexico border, but a few winter in southern California.


Like many other swallows, the Violet-green lives in colonies, basically because of its feeding needs. Where one finds food there is usually enough for all, and when feeding communally these birds can more readily detect and defend themselves from hawks.


4 or 5 white eggs in a grass-and-feather nest in a woodpecker hole, a natural cavity, under the eaves of a building, or in a nest box.

Similar Species


Northern Rough-winged Swallow

5-5 3/4" (13-15 cm). Pale brown above, white below, with dingy brown throat. Bank Swallow is similar, but smaller, and has white throat and brown breast band.

adult male

Tree Swallow

5-6 1/4"(13-16 cm). Sparrow-sized. Metallic blue or blue-green above and clear white below.

adult male

Barn Swallow

5 3/4-7 3/4" (15-20 cm). Sparrow-sized. Our most familiar swallow, and the only one with a deeply forked tail. Upperparts dark steel-blue, underparts buff, throat and forehead rusty.


Cave Swallow

5 1/2" (14 cm). A stocky swallow with a square tail, steel-blue upperparts, buff throat and rump, and chestnut forehead.


Cliff Swallow

5-6" (13-15 cm). Sparrow-sized. A stocky, square-tailed swallow with pale buff rump. Upperparts dull steel-blue; underparts buff-white; throat dark chestnut; forehead white.

adult male

Purple Martin

7-8 1/2" (18-22 cm). Our largest swallow. Adult male dark steel-blue. Female and immature male duller above, pale gray below.


Bank Swallow

4 3/4-5 1/2" (12-14 cm). Sparrow-sized; our smallest swallow. Brown above, dull white below; breast crossed by distinct brown band; tail notched.


iPad Promo