Bank Swallow


Common Name: Bank Swallow

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Hirundinidae

Genus: Riparia

Species: Riparia riparia





The Bank Swallow is part of the Passeriformes order in the Hirundinidae family that includes other swallows like the Barn Swallow, the Purple Martin, and the Tree Swallow. In Europe the Bank Swallow is also known as the Sand Martin. The Bank Swallow can be told apart from other swallows from the brown band on its upper chest. The Bank Swallow also has a brown colored back and white belly and throat. Both the males and the females are the same color and size A species that looks similar to the Bank Swallow is the Northern Rough-winged Swallow that lacks the brown band but instead the Northern Rough-winged Swallow has a washed out brown upper chest and throat.


The Bank Swallow is found near the edges of water bodies where there are vertical cliffs for these birds to nest. During the breeding season they are found in much of the higher latitudes of North America including Canada and the Northern United States. During non-breeding season the Bank Swallow is found in northern South America.




When the Bank Swallow nests during the breeding season they tend to nest in colonies on vertical cliffs with other Bank Swallows. This happens mostly because of the limited amount of nesting area. There are benefits to living with other swallows including looking for predators and help with finding food during the day. Males and females arrive at approximately the same time to the colony site. Males will first start to defend a previously made burrow or make an burrow by excavating, or digging it from the soil. After the male has a burrow the female Bank Swallows will hover around the many nest sites to choose a mate. After she has chosen her mate she will begin to make a nest inside of the burrow.  As a result of so many other males around their nest males are very protective of their pair bonded female and will attack other males around the nest site so other males don't mate with her. When the nest is complete around 4 eggs are laid and hatch two weeks after. The chicks are born atriarcal so they are completely dependant on their parent's care. Both the male and the female will feed the young until they are ready to fledge which takes about 22 days.





The Bank Swallow can be found near habitats surrounding water bodies like lakes, rivers and wetlands. In these areas the birds will usually be seen flying in the sky catching insects in the air.


Birds of Western New York is brought to you by the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.