Tree Swallow
Iridoprocne bicolor
Family Hirundinidae

* Plumage shiny blue-green and black above, white below.
* The tree swallow glides in circles, ending each glide with 3 to 4 flaps and a short ascent upward.
* Body and tail length: 5-6".

Natural History:
* Habitat: Open areas near water, marshes, meadows, lakes, streams. Roosts in reeds, builds nests in holes in trees, in snags, and in bird houses.
* Range: Northern, eastern, and central United States and Canada.
* Voice: A liquid-like twitter, cheet, chi-veet, weet, trit, or weet, with variations.
* Behavior: Feeds on insects, bayberries, Virginia creeper, and blueberries.
* Native.

* Tree swallows are incredibly useful in insect-infested areas - they feed extensively on mosquitoes and other biting bugs.

* Why are swallows, and most birds for that matter, dark above and white or light-colored below? The coloration is thought to be a camouflage-like defense against predators - birds of prey, like hawks, who fly higher than swallows, cannot easily distinguish the deep blue green feathers from the vegetation below. And predators who sight swallows from below see only white, which easily blends in with the sky.

* Angela Barrett wrote a captivating short story about women and science, using as a plot device the migration of swallows. Swallows mysteriously appear overnight in spring, but no one knew where they came from until the middle of the last century. Some speculated that they overwintered underwater. What would you have done to solve this mystery? --- is in a collection of short stories entitled "Ship Fever."

* "The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies."
-John Keats, 1795-1821



Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005