Bird of the Week – Bank Swallow


Yep, another swallow. This one more correctly named, because uniquely among Alaska swallows, it excavates a nesting cavity in a dirt bank.

Bank Swallow, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Chevak, Alaska

Bank Swallow, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Chevak, Alaska

The Bank Swallow’s scientific name – Riparia riparia – neatly describes its preference for nesting in the lakeside and streamside (riparian) banks and bluffs of lakes, rivers and streams. This is a highly social land-bird with a Holarctic (Eastern and Western Hemispheres) breeding distribution. It nests in colonies ranging from 10 to almost 2,000 active nests. One of only a few passerines with an almost cosmopolitan distribution, it is one of the most widely distributed swallows in the world. In the Old World, this species is known as the Sand Martin.

In Alaska, nest cavities average about three feet deep; an impressive feat of excavation for a bird with no specialized adaptation for the task.

Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/250, ISO500

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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