Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Violet-green Swallow - Tachycineta thalassina
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General Comments The Violet-green Swallow is a reasonably common breeding species of open montane forests of the western parts of Canada and the United States, ranging south into Mexico. It is highly migratory, and it winters mainly from Mexico southward, though some birds winter in coastal CA. Thus, one would expect that, sooner or later, an individual of this species would be seen in NC. However, highly aerial species such as swallows and swifts can be difficult to document photographically, which indeed was the case of the first valid report from NC. The NC BRC accepted the description of one seen (only in flight) at Lake Davidson (Mecklenburg) on 5 May 2016* [Chat 81:1-4 link]. However, as photos are voted on separately from written descriptions, the blurriness of the photos (due to great distance of the bird from the photographer) led the NC BRC to not accept this documentation. Thus, according to records committee regulations, a species accepted by a written description but not verified by photograph, specimen, or audio recording is placed on the Provisional List, which does give the species a place on the Accepted List. It should be noted that there was a previous report (in 2011) from another Piedmont county that was accepted, with photographs; however, it was later determined that the photos were taken in another state and therefore the NC BRC later rejected this erroneous report [Chat 78:17-39 link].
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Provisional
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain No records.
Piedmont One accepted record (see above).
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips The species can easily be overlooked as a Tree Swallow. It seems more likely to appear in NC as a fall migrant than a spring migrant, as most Western migrant species appear in Eastern states in fall more so than in spring. Thus, observers need to carefully scrutinize flocks of Tree Swallows for this rarity, as well as for other rare swallows such as the Cave Swallow, which does occur with Tree Swallows mainly in late fall along and near the coast.
Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2017-04-25], Howard[2017-04-24]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.