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Violet-green Swallow

Tachycineta thalassina


These small swallows are among our most beautiful. Their name comes from the violet on top of the rump and the green on the upper back.


I found this bird building a nest in a large root wad lodged along the bank of the Yellowstone River within Yellowstone National Park, but I've also seen them high in the mountains far from any water.


These are such gorgeous birds. As noted above, this bird was building a nest in a tree root wad that had washed down the river during a high water period. He would perch on this broken off root each time he returned with nesting materials, before dropping down a couple feet to his nest site. On this particular occasion, he came in with these long, flowing grass blades that were streaming in the the stiff breeze. I paused for a couple of seconds then started rapid firing photos hoping to capture him just as he started to fly again. This was the best shot I could have hoped for and is one of my favorite all time shots.

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37 Comments (1–25)

HelenadeJong 9 years ago

Very nice bird good picture

KarenL 9 years ago


Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 9 years ago

Blaise, Thanks for the comment.
Neil, I've been informally studying the difference between photographic documentation and photographic art. Most importantly how does one recognize when conditions begin to change permitting the photographer to move from documentation to art. This photograph was one of my first successful efforts of deliberately bridging that gap. Thank you for your comments; they mean a lot to me.
Ava, I added the photo to the animal architecture mission.

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 9 years ago

Since this sweet bird is building a nest and nest material in its beak, please consider adding this spotting to the Animal Architecture mission at

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 9 years ago

Gordon, everything about this spotting is sensational. As an artist (I laugh to myself), the photo itself makes my heart beat faster. For me, this goes beyond natural beauty and screams ART!!! What I wouldn't do to get a photo like this. Thank you :-)))

blaise 9 years ago

Wow that is spectacular

Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 10 years ago

Thanks everyone. It was a gorgeous day in Yellowstone when I took this photo, although very windy. I was hiking along the Yellowstone River when I found this industrious bird building its nest. Not long after I had stopped to watch and snap a few photos, an armed ranger came down to me to see what I was photographing. We chatted for a few minutes and then she told me that a grizzly bear had been using that same meadow for the previous three days and she just wanted to let me know to keep my eyes open in case the bear came back. I had my bear spray with me, but I didn't hang around long after the ranger left. Although it was extremely windy, this photo wouldn't have been so good without the grass strands blowing out and away from the bird. The wind really made this photo into something special. It remains one of my favorite photos.

Sergio Monteiro
Sergio Monteiro 10 years ago

Beautiful photo, Gordon, congrats

Cheydako 10 years ago

Nice shot! That's a beautiful bird.

CourtneyVerk 10 years ago

Amazing photo!

Maria dB
Maria dB 10 years ago

Beautiful bird, wonderful photo - congratulations!

Kdubs 10 years ago


WillRountree 10 years ago

a real nice shot!

JoyaMittal 10 years ago

wowww...beautiful...really nyc spotting..

Harsha Singh
Harsha Singh 10 years ago

beautiful picture!

Vishu 10 years ago

very nice!

DanielePralong 10 years ago

So beautiful Gordon! Congrats.

OnengDyah 10 years ago

beautiful picture...

Wild Things
Wild Things 10 years ago

Lovely shot, Gordon. Congratulations!

VivBraznell 10 years ago

Beautiful capture

Atul 10 years ago


Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 10 years ago

Congratulations Gordon,

ChristyHolland 10 years ago

Beautiful! Picture perfect!! Great timing Gordon! Wonderful shot!

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 10 years ago

Wow Congratulations Gordon!

KarenL 10 years ago

Wonderful - perfect timing!

Gordon Dietzman
Spotted by
Gordon Dietzman

Wyoming, USA

Spotted on Jun 16, 2007
Submitted on May 23, 2011

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