The black dots show the number of swallows killed each year from 1984–2012. Here you can explore recent news about cliff swallows, learn about our current and past research on this bird, get scientific papers resulting from the research, find basic natural history information on cliff swallows, and get answers to frequently asked questions about these birds. For over 30 years, some cliff swallow colony sites have been fumigated with an insecticide to remove parasitic swallow bugs. They were once strictly a bird of the west, attaching their gourd-shaped mud nests to vertical surfaces underneath horizontal rock ledges. There is a second Y axis that shows the total number of cliff nests. Nests are sprayed with a dilute solution of insecticide that kills bugs but does not harm cliff swallows. Cliff Swallows are highly social and nest in colonies numbering into the thousands. Busy flocks of Cliff Swallows often swarm around bridges and overpasses in summer, offering passers-by a chance to admire avian architecture and family life at once. Please try again later. The natural nest sites are on cliffs, preferably beneath overhangs, but as with the Eurasian House Martin, man-made structures are now the principal locations for breeding. However, in the past 100 to … Cliff Swallows begin nest building in Northern California. They build conical mud nests and lay 3-6 eggs. This has allowed us to study the effects of the parasites on the birds’ nesting success and social behavior. Note: Wing length is a heritable trait. 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