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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

Cave Swallow -- Hirundo fulva

RANGE: Breeds from Carlsbad Caverns in southeastern New Mexico and from western and south-central Texas south through Mexico. Winter range is unknown.

STATUS: Locally fairly common; range is expanding as it adapts to human-altered environment.

HABITAT: Originally restricted to open country in the vicinity of limestone caves and sinkholes; has adapted its nesting habits to artificial structures. Now also nests around culverts and bridges in the northern part of its range where water and mud are available.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Extensive roughened or pitted surfaces for nesting in caves, water for drinking, and mud suitable for nest construction.

NEST: Forms colonies and in caves, tends to build its mud nests in isolated crevices and pockets, or under overhanging ledges. Also nests in sinkholes, in highway culverts, and under bridges. May reuse nest year after year and will sometimes share the same nest site with barn swallows.

FOOD: Needs a source of water, such as a seep, spring, open water tank, or pond for drinking. (The diet of this swallow in the United States is currently unknown.)

REFERENCES: Martin 1974, 1981, Selander and Baker 1957, Wauer and Davis 1972.

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