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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Vaux's Swift -- Chaetura vauxi

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Alaska, northwestern and southern British Columbia, northern Idaho, and western Montana south, chiefly from the Cascades and Sierra Nevada westward, to central California south to northern Mexico. Winters in Central America.

STATUS: Uncommon.

HABITAT: Inhabits forested regions with large trees. In Montana, it occurs in mixed forests of Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, lowland fir, western larch, yellow birch, aspen, and cottonwoods; in California, inhabits ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, and Jeffrey pine forests, and possibly black oak woodlands. Also inhabits river valleys in dense Douglas-fir and redwood forests.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Hollow stubs or snags for nesting.

NEST: Nests are usually in a tall, hollow, dead tree, or inside burned-out stumps, generally within 20 inches but up to 6 feet up from the bottom of the cavity. Also nests in chimneys, but is not dependent upon them.

FOOD: Feeds exclusively on flying insects captured in mid-air in forest openings, especially over lakeshores and streams.

REFERENCES: Baldwin and Hunter 1963, Baldwin and Zaczkowski 1963, Bent 1940b, Scott et al. 1977, Terres 1980, Verner and Boss 1980.

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