The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most common and abundant swallow in the world. It is a small migratory songbird (a passerine). It often heralds the spring weather.
The Barn Swallow, or Eurasian Swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica) is found in the Northern Hemisphere, in Europe and Asia. It is dark iridescent blue with a rufous (reddish-brown) forehead, chin and throat, white underbelly, and black wings and tail. It has a deeply forked tail with large white spots.
The Barn Swallow is 17-19 centimetres (6.7-7.5 inches) tall. It has a wingspan of 32–35 centimetres (12.5–14 inches). It is not a fast flier. The Barn Swallow’s predators include eagles, falcons, and owls.
It is insectivorous, feeding on insects that it catches while it is flying, such as flies, flying ants, and aphids. The Barn Swallow drinks by skimming low over lakes or rivers and scooping up water with its open mouth.
They are migratory, moving to warm weather in winter. They have been recorded covering up to 11,660 kilometres (7,250 miles) on their annual migration. Sometimes there are thousands of them migrating at one time.
The Barn Swallow likes open country and residential buildings, barns, or cliffs, where it builds its nest. Males select the nest site, but both males and females build the nest and look after it. The pair stay together for life (they are monogamous). The nest looks like a small cup or bowl, and is made of mud and swallow saliva. Females lay 2-7 reddish-spotted white eggs, which hatch after 14-19 days. The altricial (featherless) chicks take 18-23 days to grow all of their feathers and leave the nest.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM