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northern rough-winged swallow

northern rough-winged swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
Photo © Brian Tang

Features and Behaviors

The northern rough-winged swallow averages about five and one-fourth inches long (tail tip to bill tip in preserved specimen). The adult has brown feathers on the head, wings, tail and back with dark feathers on the throat and upper breast. Its other underside feathers are white. The juvenile has rust-colored wing bars.

Spring migrants start arriving in Illinois about the middle of March. These birds burrow into the mud banks along rivers to nest. The burrow may be 10 inches to three feet long. They may nest singly or in a colony. A clutch contains four to eight eggs. They overwinter from the southern United States through Panama. Insects make up their diet.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae

Illinois Status: common, native