This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the violet-green swallow.
Violet-green swallows begin arriving in Archuleta County each April as they migrate north from Mexico and Central America. They take advantage of longer daylight hours, increasing temperatures and growing insect populations to breed and raise their young. Swift aerial acrobats, they swoop and chitter while catching and eating flying insects on the wing. You can spot them near water, in open areas and above our woodland tree canopies until they begin their southward migration in September.
Spotted from a bridge as they skim below, or viewed as they perch on a branch or wire, violet-green swallows shine with iridescent purple and bronze-green backs. Without the right sunlight angle, they may just appear to be dark-backed, small, sleekbodied birds with long wings. Their white undersides, cheeks and “saddlebag” shaped rump patches make them easier to identify. The colors of female and immature birds may look muted. Females have brownish caps.
Both male and female swallows work to build cup-shaped nests of grass and twigs in tree cavities and cliff niches. They will nest and raise their young near human homes when provided with nest boxes. They generally produce four to seven eggs, which they incubate for 11 to 20 days. Both parents provide care until the young fledge in 17 to 30 days.
Their populations are currently considered to be stable.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.