Barn Swallow

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Hirundo rustica

Barn Swallow

The Barn Swallow is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts and long, deeply forked tail. It is the most abundant and the most widespread species of swallow in the world.

Both sexes are 5.9 - 7.5 inches long, with 11.4 - 12.6 inches wingspan and weight of 17 - 20 grams.

They have long and pointed wings and tail, and slender body.

Males have black plumage with blue glossy feathers on the upperparts. On the upperwings, flight feathers are black. Tail is black with long steamers and it is deeply forked.

Underparts show broad blue-black collar on throat and upper breast. Lower breast, belly and vent are creamy-white to pure white. On the underwings, flight feathers are dark gray whereas coverts are creamy-white. Undertail coverts are creamy-white but rectrices are blackish. White patches on outer rectrices form white band across the tail.

Forehead and chin are dark red. Crown and nape are blue-black. Lores and the area around the eye are black. The thin, short bill is black, as eyes, short legs and feet.

Females are similar but usually have shorter tail steamers and less distinct blue-black collar on throat.

Juveniles have short steamers. Forehead and chin are buffy-white or even darker. Plumage is duller than in adults.

CALL: Usual contact call is a clear “witt-witt-witt”, and the alarm call is a double shrill “tsuii”, accompanied by fast flights at intruder or predator.

SONG: Utters rapid twittering interspersed with harsh, raucous sounds, and creaking notes at the end. This song is often uttered when the bird perches on wires or exposed branches.

Feeds on insects taken on the wing, including various species, and also some butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

Prefers open areas such as farmlands, grasslands, marshes and country with some trees. They are often seen in villages, towns and cities.

Breeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Winters in much of the Southern Hemisphere.

Both sexes build a cup-shaped nest with mud and dry grasses. They often nests on ledges in buildings, monuments and cliff faces, sometimes in mews or other rural constructions even near humans.

The female lays 4 - 5 white eggs speckled dark. Incubation lasts about 14 days by female alone. When she leaves the nest for feeding, the male may incubate during 15 minutes. If the female dies, the nest is abandoned.


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