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Update September 03, 2007: added some excellent photos of ridgwayi from the Yucatan, courtesy of Paul Donald - Click here and look at the bottom of the page:

Update: Oct 09, 2003: Click here to go to quotes from Phillips (1986) and application of his criteria to this bird.

This Rough-winged Swallow was found sitting in a group of resting swallows on October 03, 2003 at Benbrook Lake, near Fort Worth, Texas - it was in a huge influx of swallows at the lake - more than seventy-thousand birds.... I am puzzled by the features mentioned below:

It was unusually large - similar to nearby Barn Swallows in general bulk:

Note the white spots at the base of the bill (in partial shadow) - these spots were round, sharply demarcated from the surrounding brown, and striking:

Note the extent of tail fork:

Note the dusky undertail coverts:

Ridgway's Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx [s.] ridgwayi is a little known form that is regarded by some authorities as a separate species (e.g. Howell in F.G. to the birds of Mexico, but not yet by the A.O.U.) Its range is thought to be from southern Veracruz through the Yucatan and down into northern Guatemala, yet I wonder if its real distribution is perhaps not yet fully established. As far as I know there are no records of this taxon from north of Veracruz, Mexico. The main ID features that separate it from Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis (from Howell, and the "Swallows" monograph by Turner and Rose) are:
Larger size.
Darker overall coloration (however color tone is variable in serripennis and might also be in ridgwayi.)
Clear white spots at the base of the bill.
A more-forked tail.
The undertail coverts are "black" "blackish" or "dusky" (depending on which reference is used, and perhaps variable by subspecies - form stuarti from the south/west of its range apparently is darker generally and has blacker undertail coverts than the nominate form.)

Out of the above features, this individual appears to score for ridgwayi in all elements except the overall coloration. Presuming this bird to be a variant serripennis, it would seem that the above-listed criteria (and perhaps the status of the taxon?) may be in need of review.