Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)


French: Hirondelle à face blanche German: Veilchenschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina verdemar

Hirundo thalassinus


, 1827,

Real del Monte, Hidalgo, Mexico


Closely related to T. euchrysea and T. cyaneoviridis#R. Population from Alaska and Canada S to Arizona, New Mexico and Baja California sometimes separated as race lepida. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. t. thalassina (Swainson, 1827) – C Alaska and W Canada (S from N Yukon, SW Mackenzie, N British Columbia, WC Alberta, SW Saskatchewan) S in W USA (E to W North Dakota and NW Nebraska) to S Arizona and S New Mexico, and Mexico (S to C Baja California, also on plateau S to Oaxaca and Veracruz); winters Baja California S to N Nicaragua; casual in Costa Rica#R.
  • T. t. brachyptera Brewster, 1902 – NW Mexico (C & S Baja California, S Sonora).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 14–16 g. Male has forehead to nape matt green, nape with violet tinge, side of head, including area above and behind eye, white; back matt green, rump... read more


    Twitter call is used in territorial and courtship contexts; other calls include a contact call... read more


    Open deciduous, coniferous and mixed woodland; also other open areas, such as cliffs, deserts or... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. In samples taken throughout North America, diet consisted of 36% Hemiptera (leafhoppers, leafbugs), 29% flies (Diptera), 23%... read more


    Mainly May–Aug, from Feb in Mexico; single-brooded. Solitary, or in groups of typically up to 25 pairs, occasionally more than 50... read more


    Nominate race mainly a long-distance migrant, winters from S Sonora and the Mexican Plateau S to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Total population estimated at c. 11,000,000 birds. Generally fairly common to common, especially in mountain ranges around Los Angeles (California).... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 25 February 2020).