Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When the Swallows Return to Northern Illinois; Early April Migration

A Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011 
Early April is the time swallows start arriving in our area of northern Illinois. The first two species of swallows that I observed this spring were the Northern Rough-winged Swallows (Above) and Tree Swallows (Tomorrow's post).  I have had good luck seeing N. Rough-wings near one of the bridges over the Kishwaukee River in Black Hawk State Park. Ordinarily I would have had a hard time differentiating between these swallows and Bank Swallows as they are both brownish with a lighter breast. But upon hearing their song, a short steady rough "frrrip" as they glide over the river snagging insects in mid flight, I knew they were Rough-wings.  N. R-wings are plain brown with darker eyes and lores, and its breast is a bit lighter as it gradiates to a dirty white near the belly. These swallows are found throughout the U.S. and Mexico and into southern Canada. They will spend their winters in Mexico and Central America.

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