Swifts and Swallows of Columbia County, Oregon

Swallows are the high-flying, acrobatic insect-eaters of the daytime, while swifts and nighthawks do the same thing in early evening and night. All of these species are migratory and only visit our region between March and October.

Barn Swallow northwest oregon columbia county
Barn Swallow – Glossy blue above with a rusty throat. Tail is deeply forked. Naturally nested in caves and crevices but now uses barns and bridges instead. (photo © AndyGo)
Cliff Swallow northwest oregon columbia county
Cliff Swallow – Blueish back and rusty throat with a white patch on forehead. Less forked tail than a Barn Swallow. Builds mud nests on cliffs and bridges. (photo © cgates326)
Tree Swallow northwest oregon columbia county
Tree Swallow – Blueish above with white throat and white belly. Requires tree cavities to nest in (preferably near open water) and suffers when old trees are cut down. (photo © jarvis_kane)
Purple Martin northwest oregon columbia county
Purple Martin – Glossy bluish-purple with a dark chest (blue in males, gray in females). Our largest swallow, is a Sensitive Species due to lack of old snags to nest in. (photo © Mike)
Violet-green Swallow northwest oregon columbia county
Violet-green Swallow – Greenish back and violet rump, while clean white below. White around the eye unlike any other local swallow. Often nests in niches on buildings. (photo © Zach)
Bank Swallow northwest oregon columbia county
Bank Swallow – Brown above with a brown breast band and white swoosh on neck. Nests in burrows in soft cliffs or banks, often in large colonies. (photo © cgates326)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow columbia county northwest oregon
Northern Rough-winged Swallow – Brown above and dusky below, no band. Often nests in burrows near Bank Swallows, but can also use trees or homes. (photo © Josh Vandermuelen)
Vaux's Swift northwest oregon columbia county
Vaux’s Swift – Brown above and dirty-white below. Narrower, straighter wings than swallows, holding them stiffer in flight. Nests in old snags and chimneys. (photo © Lilian Chou)
Black Swift northwest oregon columbia county
Black Swift – Larger than Vaux’s Swift with darker belly. Famously nests on rock behind waterfalls. Is a Sensitive Species and very rarely seen in our area. (photo © Braden J. Judson)
Common Nighthawk northwest oregon columbia county
Common Nighthawk – Long slender wings with white patches in flight, incredible camouflage when sitting. Declining, potentially due to pesticides or habitat loss. (photo © Eric Isley)

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