Hey guys, welcome back. Today, the only swallow species I’ve seen (to date) that I’ve only seen in Ohio; the bank swallow. Like all swallows, the bank swallow is a fast, agile, and very aerobatic flier. This can make trying to ID one in flight rather difficult. I hadn’t yet moved back to Ohio, but was home visiting when I went to a nearby park that’s a favorite of mine to do some birding. This park is right along the shore of Lake Erie, and I saw some swallows. I could tell right off that they weren’t barn or tree swallows, as the bird lacked any blue coloration. It was a grayish brown. But it just didn’t look like a northern rough-winged swallow. I wasn’t sure what it was. I consulted with my Merlin app, and saw that the bank swallow was similar looking. Bank swallows do look most like the rough-winged swallows, but they have a whiter throat, and a dark band across their breast. Seems easy enough. But then again, these birds weren’t sitting still like that one in the pic up above. About 10 minutes of observing, and I was able to determine they did have that breast band and therefore must be bank swallows!
The pics in this post are actually from the same park I made that first ID at back in 2016. Turns out, they nest there. And why not? It provides the perfect habitat. Bank swallows don’t get their name because they’re good with their money, they get their name from the fact they nest in holes along the banks of rivers. The park I’ve mentioned is Lakeshore Reservation, and it features a tall bluff overlooking Lake Erie. It’s inside this dirt bluff that the bank swallows make their nest. It’s kind of funny. I’ve to date seen 6 swallow species, and I can divide them by where they nest into 3 pairs of two. Barn and cliff swallow make mud nests on the side of vertical surfaces. Tree swallows and purple martins nest in cavities (very often in manmade nest boxes.) While rough-winged and bank swallows nest in burrows along the banks of water bodies.
Bank swallows are found throughout the US, breeding in the northern half. They are actually one of the most widely distributed bird species in the world, being found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, and 49 of the 50 states (sorry Hawaii.) It took 4 years almost to the day of my first spot to nab a picture of them, which I did just a few weeks ago. 2020 has been a rough year, but it has been a good swallow photography year, for me anyway. Next up, the yellow-billed cuckoo; not just for clocks! See you then!