Cave Swallow, Petrochelidon fulva in New York

On Saturday 28th November 1998, Andy Guthrie and I observed what we believe is a Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) hawking over the golf course at Riis Park, Queens, New York. Here are a collection of photographs of this bird. We later saw two Cave Swallows (presumably the initial bird plus a second) circling over the nearby Fort Tilden Headquarters. These constitute the 2nd and 3rd records for New York State (pending acceptance).

Click here for some additional pictures.
Click here for a description of the sighting.
Finally click here for a collection of comments on the photos and discussion of subspecific identification and ageing by subscribers to ID-Frontiers.

Figure 1. The breast, belly, flanks and vent region are white. The upper breast and throat are cinnamon (color slightly obscured by shadow). Notice the slight notch in the tail.

Figure 2. Side on view showing the pale cinnamon of the throat extending across lower nape as a collar. In the field the forehead color was difficult to determine (through 30x scope) but seemed dark (possibly red). In these photos the forehead appears lighter than the dark blue cap with a clear hint of red (especially close to the bill). The forehead is clearly darker than the throat.

Figure 3.The mantle and crown are a dark metallic blue. The forehead shows a tint of red above the bill and mask.

Figure 4. Head-on view showing the pale cinnamon throat. Note the contrast with the white belly, flanks and vent.

Figure 5.In life, the throat was pale cinnamon without any signs of a dark patch. The dark areas in these photos are shadows. Note the dark areas on some of the undertail coverts.

Figure 6.Side-profile showing cinnamon of the throat extending up across the nape as a prominent collar.

Figure 7. Undersurface view. The underwing coverts and axillaries are sandy-brown. The flanks appear to be white with no more than a slight buff wash along the very base of the wing.

Figure 8.Distant view as the bird dips behined a stand of pines marking the perimeter of the golf course.

Figure 9. A view of the uppersurface as the bird banks sharply. The pale nape separating the dark back from the dark cap is quite obvious in this shot as well as the pale brick colored rump patch . Although out-of-focus, the series of pale stripes running lengthwise across the dark blue mantle are visible.

Click here for a second page of photos.

Copyright © 1998 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson (e-mail:
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