Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis 

The species name means "saw feather" and refers to curved barbs along the outer edge of the primary wing feathers. The barbs are present only on adult males and the function of these 'hook-like" structures is not understood. 

Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Bank Swallows often nest in similar locations, but the Rough-winged species nests singly and Bank Swallows colonially. 

There was a solitary Northern Rough-winged Swallow nest on the bank of the Elbow River west of the Bank Swallow colony before the flood. Within a week of the flood a Northern Rough-winged Swallow family established a nest in Curly Creek, a quiet side arm of the Elbow River about a kilometer east. I suspect this is the same family that lost their nest in the flood. 
This photograph taken on June 26, 6 days after the flood, shows the swallow taking some nesting material to the new tunnel in Curly Creek. 
The photographs above and below were taken on July 27, a month later, about 20 or 30 meters away from the nest hole. The swallow is perched on a branch over Curly Creek. 


The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Birds. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2000.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

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