The Violet Green Swallow of the Pacific Northwest
The Violet green swallow is usually the first of the swallows to arrive in early spring but are completely controlled by the weather and follow the insect hatch as they are birds that feed on the wing and exclusively on flying insects.
You can see them from sea level all the way up to 1400 meters. They are usually found along rivers and mountain lakes feeding on the insect hatches until dispersing to their nesting areas. River estuaries are great places to observe them. They are widely spread over the south and east coast of Vancouver Island but are rare visitors to the west coast of the Island.
Lots of my neighbors put up swallow boxes and we have a large population of nesting swallows in our area. Its great to watch them soaring through the sky catching insects on the fly. On a sunny day, they sparkle like little gems as they flash across the sky. The Violet Green Swallow is quite small and sleek, it is iridescent violet green above and white below. The sides of their heads are white, with the white extending above the eye. Their tails are moderately forked.
Violet green Swallows nest in tree cavities, on cliffs, buildings, old woodpecker holes, and nest boxes. Originally, they probably nested in rock crevices and tree holes, and although they now take advantage of man made structures, they do not take as readily to nest boxes as do other types of Swallows. They nest in isolated pairs or small colonies of up to 25 nests. Both male and female build the nest, a cup of grass, twigs, rootlets, and straw, lined with feathers of other birds. The female incubates up to 6 eggs for up to 15 days. Both adults feed the young, which leave the nest within 24 days of hatching. The parents continue to feed the young for some time after they leave the nest.