- COSEWIC – Threatened
- COSSARO – Threatened
- The Bank Swallow is the smallest swallow in the Americas averaging 12 cm long.
- It is a very slender songbird, with dark brown upperparts and wings, white underparts and a distinctive dark breast band.
- Males and females are very similar in size and colour.
- The Bank Swallow can be distinguished in flight from other swallows by fast, erratic wing beats and constant chattering vocalizations.
- Bank Swallows are primarily insectivores and will feed singly, in pairs, or in flocks.
- They catch insects in the air but will also eat land and water-based insects or spiders when available.
Habits & Reproduction:
- Male Bank Swallows dig a 60-90-cm-long burrow then construct a soft nest of grasses, feathers, rootlets and leaves with the help of their female mate.
- Females typically lay four or five white eggs.
- Nests are constructed in natural or human-made settings so long as there is a vertical face in silt or sand deposits.
- A nesting colony may range in size from 10-2000.
- Bank Swallows live in low lying areas near rivers, streams, ocean coasts, or reservoirs.
- Their territories usually include vertical cliffs or banks where they nest.
- Bank Swallows were commonly found around natural bluffs or stream banks, these swallows now often populate human-made sites, such as sand and gravel quarries or road cuts.
- The Bank Swallow migrates south for the winter, primarily to South America.
- The Bank Swallow is found on every continent except Antarctica and Australia.
- Although widespread, this species is in steep decline amounting to a loss of 98% of its Canadian population over the last 40 years albeit at a slower rate since the 1980s. The reasons for these declines are likely driven by the cumulative effects of several threats including:
- loss of breeding and foraging habitat
- destruction of nests during aggregate excavation
- collision with vehicles
- widespread pesticide use that has reduced the populations of insects they eat
- impacts of climate change
- Report your sightings to the MNR or at www.gbbr.ca
- Volunteer with Bird Studies Canada to advance the understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild birds and their habitat in Ontario. Click here for more information on how you can help