Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) - HBW 9, p. 683

French: Hirondelle à front blanc German: Fahlstirnschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina Risquera
Other common names: American/North American Cliff Swallow

Taxonomy: Hirundo pyrrhonota Vieillot, 1817, Paraguay.
Genus often merged with Hirundo, but DNA studies support retention of separate taxa. Variation clinal, birds becoming smaller and darker from N to S, and races intergrade. Status of race ganieri not clear, possibly better merged with nominate. Proposed races hypopolia (from Alaska and W Canada S, inland, to EC California, N Utah and NW Wyoming) and aprophata (S Oregon) considered to fall within range of variation of nominate; minima, described from SW USA (Arizona), considered synonymous with melanogaster. Has hybridized with Hirundo rustica, a.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Hirundo pyrrhonota Vieillot, 1817, Paraguay.
Genus often merged with Hirundo, but DNA studies support retention of separate taxa. Variation clinal, birds becoming smaller and darker from N to S, and races intergrade. Status of race ganieri not clear, possibly better merged with nominate. Proposed races hypopolia (from Alaska and W Canada S, inland, to EC California, N Utah and NW Wyoming) and aprophata (S Oregon) considered to fall within range of variation of nominate; minima, described from SW USA (Arizona), considered synonymous with melanogaster. Has hybridized with Hirundo rustica, and one record with Tachycineta bicolor. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • pyrrhonota (Vieillot, 1817) - breeds North America from W & C Alaska and Canada (N Yukon and N Mackenzie E to N Manitoba, N Ontario, S Quebec, Prince Edward I, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) S to NW Mexico (NW Baja California) in W and, in E, to E USA (S to W Virginia, SE Pennsylvania, W Connecticut and NE Massachusetts, with scattered local populations farther S & E); winters South America.
  • tachina Oberholser, 1903 - breeds S USA (SW Utah S to C Arizona, C New Mexico and SW Texas) S to NW Mexico (Baja California); presumed to winter South America.
  • melanogaster (Swainson, 1827) - breeds SE Arizona and SW New Mexico S to S Mexico (S to Nayarit and Oaxaca); winters South America.
  • ganieri (A. R. Phillips, 1986) - breeds S USA W of Appalachians (WC Tennessee S to S Texas); presumed to winter South America.