Beak of the Week – Cave Swallow

Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)
Family: Hirundinidae

The Cave Swallow is an increasingly common species in the greater Houston area. At first glance, the Cave Swallow appears very similar to the closely related (and more abundant) Cliff Swallow. Both species are generally light below and darker above, both species have a buffy rump patch that is easily visible in flight, and both species are often seen foraging for insects in open areas. However, the Cave Swallow is slightly smaller and, if you look closely, the Cave Swallow also has a lighter buffy throat and a darker forehead than does the Cliff Swallow.

The Cave Swallow is a colonial nesting species, and colonies historically nested inside the entrances of caves. However, as their range has expanded into areas where caves are not as readily available, Cave Swallows have begun building their nests in culverts and on the underside of bridges. Cave Swallows use mud to build their cup-shaped nests, which are generally more open on top than the jug-like nests built by Cliff Swallows.

By Aidan Healey, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon
Photos by Greg Lavaty

Visit our Bird Gallery to learn about more Texas birds!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s