The name, ‘Rough-winged,’ refers to the tiny serrations on the outermost wing feathers of this swallow, visible only when the bird is in the hand. Adults are plain brown above with a white belly and buffy throat and upper breast. They have square tails and white under-tail coverts, sometimes visible from above on the sides of their rumps when the bird is in flight. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults but have reddish-brown wing-bars. Northern Rough-winged Swallows can be confused with Bank Swallows, but Bank Swallows have distinct breast-bands and white throats, with some white wrapping back to their ears. Northern Rough winged Swallows have shorter tails than those of Bank Swallows. Northern Rough-winged Swallows are also broader-winged and stockier than Bank Swallows. Bank Swallows have backs and rumps that are paler than their wings. Consult a field guide or experienced observer for assistance in identification.

 

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