Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
FWP Conservation Tier
Separated in all plumages and ages from all other North American swallows except Cave Swallow by a square tail and orange rump. In all populations, exhibits a chestnut-colored throat. Most subspecies show a cream- or white-colored, triangular-shaped forehead patch, characters that separate the species from Cave Swallow. Head and neck are noticeably thicker than other North American swallows (Brown and Brown 1995).
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are May 5 to June 1 and August 25 to September 10.
Historically inhabited open canyons, foothills, escarpments, and river valleys that offered a vertical cliff face with a horizontal overhang for nest attachment. Now found in a wide variety of habitats because of use of artificial nesting structures such as bridges and buildings. Avoids heavy forest, desert and alpine areas. Most colony sites are located near open fields or pastures where the birds forage and a water source is often nearby. Proximity to mud source is often cited as a breeding-habitat requirement (Brown and Brown 1995).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (406) 444-3655.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. Special Publication No. 12. Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists. 278 p.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Open Water / Wetland and Riparian Systems
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Flying insects at all times of the year. Insects taken reflect local availability. Occasional pieces of seeds are found in stomachs but these represent either accidental ingestion or use as grit (Brown and Brown 1995).
Typically nest in large colonies; a single site may contain up to 3,500 active nests. Nests are made of mud on vertical substrates. Cliff swallows are distinguished by their enclosed, gourd-shaped nests and the larger colonies. Single brood. Clutch size ranges 1 to 6 eggs. Eggs are ground color white, creamy white or pinkish white. Ovate to elliptical-ovate in shape (Brown and Brown 1995). Egg dates near Fortine are from June 9 to July 17. Statewide, nesting occurs from mid-May to mid-July.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View WorldCat Record View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
- Brown, C.R. and M.B. Brown. 1995. Cliff Swallow (HIRUNDO PYRRHONOTA). In The Birds of North America, No. 149. A. Poole and F. Gill, eds. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologist's Union, Washington, D.C. 31pp.
- Brown, Charles R., and Mary B. Brown. 1995. Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota). Species Account Number 149. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
- Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
- Econ, Inc., Helena, MT., 1991, Wildlife monitoring report: 1989 field season, Big Sky Mine. March 1991.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder’s Handbook, A Field Guide to the Natural History of North American Birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Johnsgard, P. A. 1986. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the Northern Rocky Mountain region. Colorado Associated University Press, Boulder. xi + 504 pp.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Lawrence Park, Kalispell, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.008. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Creston Site, Creston, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.007. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- Montana Dept. of Transportation., 200?, Montana Dept. of Transportation Biological Resources Report: Wetland mitigation east of Browning. Montana Wetland ?? Proj. No. NH 0002(232) CN 0703. In Perry Ranch - East of Browning Wetland Mitigation Site, Glacier County. US#3. Man.? Fin Dist3 Admin.Dist3
- Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
- Sullivan, Daniel, 1982, Bait stations as a means of rodenticide presentation to control Columbian ground squirrrels. Technical Rep. 82-3. Sept. 1982.
- Turner, A., and C. Rose. 1989. Swallows and martins an identification guide. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- VTN Environmental Sciences, Sheridan, Wyoming for Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1973, Environmental Analysis Decker Coal Company Mine, Decker, Montana.
- Westmoreland Resources, Inc., Hardin, MT., 1981, 1981 Wildlife Report. April 1982.
- Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Ryegate Wetland, Ryegate, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.030. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
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