Fun Bank Swallow Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 05, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Bank swallow facts are amusing.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

Also known as the collared sand martin, the bank swallow (Riparia riparia) belonging to the family of Hirundinidae, order Passeriformes, and genus Riparia, are the smallest species of swallows native to North America. The bank swallows derived their name as they live in banks and bluffs and are categorized under the Hirundinidae family of swallows. They can be found in low-lying areas near water bodies with an erosive mantle like river banks, ponds, and streams moving around in flocks. Even during migration, they mingle with several species of swallows and leave North America during extreme winters. Migration usually takes place during the daytime. However, it's not easy to trace one if you stay somewhere in California or New York.

During the breeding period, both partners indulge carefully in finding out appropriate breeding grounds. The adults form nesting colonies in river bluffs, sandbanks, gravel quarries, and even in mines. Normally the males are entrusted with the task of digging a burrow with the help of their feet, beak, and wings after which the nests are constructed deep underneath the burrow.

If you enjoy exploring interesting facts about different species of birds then these mesmerizing bank swallow facts have been curated just for you. You can also read some more amusing facts about other bird species like the lyrebird and the chipping sparrow.

Bank Swallow Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bank swallow?

A bank swallow is a species of bird.

What class of animal does a bank swallow belong to?

The bank swallow species belong to the class Aves.

How many bank swallows are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List, the number of adult birds has been recorded at between 10 and 500 million.

Where does a bank swallow live?

Bank swallows can be found in many places across the globe. It is primarily found in North America, but can also be traced in countries of the Middle East, throughout Europe, northern parts of Africa, Eurasia, and the USA. Colonies have been noticed in cities but they are very rare. It is very difficult to trace these birds in places like New York or California.

What is a bank swallow's habitat?

The habitat of the species mainly includes spaces close to water bodies such as lakes, ponds, streams, marshes, or even regions excavated by human beings like vertical banks of rivers and fields. Sandy sea or ocean coats also form a major part of their habitat.

Who do bank swallows live with?

The bank swallows portray a highly sociable nature as they form colonies and move about in large flocks for foraging. They are even known to mingle with other species of the swallow family in their pursuit of food. Even outside the breeding seasons, they do not lead a solitary life.

How long does a bank swallow live?

These birds can live up to nine years in the wilderness.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction cycle begins when the pair bond. During the nesting season, the birds look for a suitable region for setting up their colonies followed by the best nest burrow-like gravel quarries. The breeding range of these birds encompasses large areas. After the nest site has been located, the males generally engage in digging nesting burrows while the females choose their partner and engage in building up the nest inside. The partners stick together through an entire breeding season. The depth of a burrow can go down to five feet. However, since the banks are very unstable there are great chances of collapse due to which these breeding colonies relocate nesting areas frequently. The nesting habitat includes 10 to 2000 nests. Both the males and females engage in incubation which lasts for about 13-16 days. Nests can be located from June to July. After the eggs hatch, both parents feed and nurture the young ones. The clutch size consists of between three and five eggs.

What is their conservation status?

As per the records provided by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, they fall under the category of Least Concern. This implies that they are abundant in number and are not considered to be among one of the vulnerable groups. According to the information passed on by the Breeding Bird Survey, the population of the species has increased significantly in Washington. Nevertheless, the population trend shows a steep decline which might bear severe consequences in the coming years.

Bank Swallow Fun Facts

What do bank swallows look like?

Bank swallow facts are all about the North American songbirds.

Swallows can be identified from their streamlined body structure. The appearance differs according to the characteristics of each species. Bank swallows are small North American birds. They possess a brown or grayish-brown tinted body with white underparts. A distinct feature of these birds is that they have a dark brown breast band. Additionally, they have a forked tail that is long, pointed, and narrow. Their wings are very slender while beaks are conical. Wings come in darker shades of brown whereas the crown is more grayish-brown. The males, females, and even the juveniles look alike. Their fluttery wing beats offer them a great advantage in hunting.

How cute are they?

Since the bank swallow species do not exhibit a colorful mantle, they score low in the cuteness quotient. However, they possess an appealing and unique look majorly due to the sleek body shape and forked tail.

How do they communicate?

Like all other species of birds, the bank swallows communicate by vocalizing through different calls. Some of the significant calls are alarm or warning calls, flight calls, and others. While the males croon sweet melodious songs for pleasing their counterparts during mating, the flight call is a harsh 'tschr-tschr'.

How big is a bank swallow?

Bank swallows are small-sized birds with their average length ranging from 5-6 in (12-14 cm). They are the smallest in the swallow family. However, they are larger than hummingbirds.

How fast can a bank swallow run?

Bank swallows are very agile during flight as they need to be swift in their movements while catching prey. However, an accurate flight speed is as yet unknown due to the lack of studies.

How much does a weigh?

The average weight of a bank swallow (Riparia riparia) ranges from 0.4-0.7 oz (10.2-18.8 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The sexes do not have distinct designations to be addressed with. They are commonly called a male bank swallow and a female bank swallow respectively.

What would you call a baby bank swallow?

A baby bank swallow is called a hatchling or nestling.

What do they eat?

These North American birds enjoy an enriching high-protein diet comprising insects like ants, moths, butterflies, bees, and several others. Generally, they prey on flying insects. However, they are also known to feed on larvae, aquatic or terrestrial insects.

Are they dangerous?

Apart from being insect-eaters, bank swallows are completely harmless. They do not generally possess an aggressive nature.

Would they make a good pet?

To know whether these birds make good pets or not one must be inquisitive about the bird's behavior. Bank swallows are not violent in nature. They might fly past your backyard foraging for some insects that you have collected for them in a nest box but they are not very ideal pets. In fact, swallows have never been reared in cages as pets.

Did you know...

The name swallow has colloquial roots, used to refer to the common barn swallows. These birds constructed their nests in barns.

The period for migration is usually in May, August, and September. Usually, in early August these birds form large flocks with other species of swallows, like barn swallows, tree swallows, or cave swallows, and head towards the southern parts of the United States and towards South America to spend the winter. The bank swallows return to North America around early spring.

The males try to woo the females by creating their burrow. Then, in pursuit of the females, they take flight, sing, and hover over the burrow entrance to mark their territorial circle.

They are adept at foraging both in the air as well as on the land surface. Moreover, the swift and thrifty wingbeats allow them to catch their prey from about a height of 50 ft above the ground or water surface.

A great resemblance can be noticed between the bank swallows and northern rough-winged swallows. The only distinguishing factor is that the latter lacks the dark brown breast band as well as the forked tail.

Conservation efforts are being taken up by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Pheasants Forever, and other institutions to secure the sustenance of these birds. Bank Swallow Bend is a nature park situated in Indianola, Iowa where bird watchers and nature lovers enjoy hiking. It is a haven for the colonies of bank swallows.

What is the largest swallow?

While bank swallows are the smallest, the largest species among all the swallows is the North American purple martin with an average length of 8 in (20 cm).

Why do swallows fly so close to the ground?

Bank swallows are birds of the land but very peculiarly, they mainly prey in flight and can even catch prey from a great height of 50 ft. Interestingly, they do not fly very close to the land rather they fly high up in the sky to forage. However, there is an exception to this as only while migrating in flocks do these birds tend to fly nearer to the land surface, covering long distances of around 200 miles (320 km).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including red-bellied woodpecker facts or muscovy duck facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bank swallow coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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