Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor
Range Map

The Tree Swallow breeds in North America and winters in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Historically, these birds have used natural cavities in trees for nesting, but they have learned to exploit bluebird nesting boxes.

While insects comprise most of their food base, they can survive on plant based food such as berries. In winter, this strategy helps get them through cold snaps, and factors in to being able to survive winters further north than other swallow species.

Extensively studied, researchers consider the Tree Swallow as a “model organism”. Close examinations of these birds have led to revelations about other species.

I once met this bird near Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory (Canada) while on my way to Alaska in 2005. However, most of my encounters have been in the lower forty-eight, in California, Oregon, and Utah.

Researchers view the Tree Swallow as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies).

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