Violet-green Swallow, Tachycineta thalassina


Violet-green Swallow, male, 5/9/08,
              Arastradero Preserve
The purple on the upper-tail coverts, often not seen, identifies this as a male of this most beautiful of North American swallow species. Green on the back can be bright in both sexes, male head usually relatively bright green; female head duller green to brownish. The extension of white above the eye is a mark that allows distinction of Violet-green from Tree Swallows in flight. The two species co-exist in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the Violet-green usually at higher altitudes and the Tree more often near bodies of water. 


Violet-green Swallow, female, 5/9/08,
              Arastradero Preserve
Females above and below, showing the characteristic slightly duller green back, crown dull green or brown, and less distinct separation between green and white on the side of the head.


Violet-green Swallow, female, 5/8/10,
              Rancho San Antonio


Violet-green Swallow, male, 3/8/08,
              Arastradero Preserve


Violet-green Swallow, male, 2/28/08,
              Arastradero Preserve,
I haven't very often clearly seen the "violet" on these birds, but the pictures at the top, above,
and below give good looks at it.


Violet-green Swallow, male, 5/9/08,
              Arastradero Preserve
The shot above shows another mark that allows distinction of Violet-green from Tree Swallows; the
white of the underparts extends further onto the upperparts of the Violet-green, giving the appearance
of a white rump in on a bird in flight.


Violet-green Swallow, male, 5/27;08,
              Stevens Creek Park
Above, another view of the male swallow's beautiful coloring: pure white underparts, rich green crown, bright green back, rich brown coverts, a glimpse of the purple tail coverts, and a bit more purple at the shoulder. Below, a side view with the male turned to face the camera, showing green tinged with purple on the back, and deep purple tail-coverts. (Maybe you can tell I'm fond of these birds.)


Violet-green Swallow, male, 4/22/10,
              Rancho San Antonio


Violet-green Swallow, male flying,
              4/27/11, Willow Tank, Portal, AZ
My only flight shot of a Violet-green Swallow, taken just east of the Chiricahuas, near the Arizona-New Mexico border.