Georgia Birding and Nature

Cave Swallows

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I found this CAVE SWALLOW at the Merry Brother's Brickyard Ponds (Boral Brick) in Augusta, GA on 12/03/08.
The bird circled around nearby, and I was able to see the fieldmarks clearly for identification.  The pale rump coupled with a pale throat with contrasting black cap were immediately obvious in flight, allowing separation from Cliff Swallow. 
Obtaining a photo was more difficult for several reasons:  my camera battery died, my camera doesn't digiscope well with the scope I was using, and my tripod leg was broken.  Fortunately the bird landed, and I was able to obtain some decent photos showing some good field marks.
Eric Beohm


In the above photo, you can see the bird coming in for a landing with Tree Swallows.  The sun is reflecting off the tip of the tail and causing a bit of the shadow around the rump region.  Despite this you can still see a light, contrasting rump.
The head is a bit hard to see, but the photo appears to show a pale throat.


This is good shot showing the pale rump peaking through the break of the wings.  The head is turned away and is in the shadow.


This photo shows the pale rump and the pale neck/throat area with a contrasting dark cap despite the bird's head being somewhat shadowed.

I found a Cave Swallow (Mexican race) here in Spalding County by my house, 08/10/06.  It was in with 500+ other swallows.  The fields near my house were being cut, and the swallows were just swarming all around.  I watched the Cave fly by a handful of times as it made a huge circle around the area.  I could see the top and bottom of the bird quite well while studying its head and neck.
I attempted a number of photos, but they did not turn out well.  I included a couple below and included a drawing illustrating the position of the bird.  Interestingly, the photos, as bad as they are, still show field marks consistent with Cave Swallow. 
The rump is light as can be seen in the photos.  Fortunately the dark tail makes the light rump area visible in the photo.  The dark areas of the bird show up but the light areas are hard to see, ok very hard to see.  That is why the head is almost indistinquishable because except for the dark cap the head and throat were light on the bird.  This makes the bird look almost headless in the photo(s).  A Cliff Swallow would show a dark head in the photos, in my opinion.
I haven't really examined all the other photos, but I expect them to be of similar quality because of the limitations of my inexpensive camera.  I probably couldn't have gotten a good photo unless the bird were to perch somewhere.
Cave Swallows are accidental in GA but certainly increasing.  Records/reports have been from Macon, Phinizy Swamp, Augusta Brickyards, Lamar/Monroe County, now Spalding County, and the coast, and the dates of occurence have been Aug thru Feb.
Eric Beohm


The drawing illustrates the position of the bird in the photo.





Cave Swallow...or maybe a UFO abducting Big Foot and Elvis to take back to the mothership.


Here are a couple quick sketches I made right after seeing the bird and before looking in a book.  I had written notes that may be indiscernable in the photo which basically outline all field marks consistent with Cave Swallow such as the pale throat, pale head and neck, dark cap, light rump, etc.