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Barn Swallow

About Barn Swallow

Slim, elegant bird with long, tapering wings and deeply-forked tail. Short black bill with wide gape. Dark metallic blue upperparts; chestnut forehead; dark chestnut chin and throat separated from creamy to rufous-buff underparts by dark blue band.

This bird breeds from May to September. Pairs build a cup-shaped nest of mud and straw lined with feathers on a ledge or under cover in a cave or open shed. The female has 4-5 white eggs, spotted with red. The eggs are incubated by the female for 14-15 days.

This bird is fast and very agile in the air, with gleaming plumage and long tail streamers. The barn swallow is one of the most elegant of all insect-hunting birds. It catches it food in flight, but unlike the superficially similar swift, it often perches on high vantage points and darts out to intercept its victims. It will hunt low over pastures and stockyards, swooping around the feet of grazing cattle and sheep to pick up the insects they disturb.

It drinks on the wing, skimming across pools to scoop up mouthfuls of water. It migrates to the tropics during the northern winter, flying up to 6,800 miles (11,000km) to reach the grasslands of South America and southern Africa.

Barn swallows often nest in farm buildings, particularly cattle sheds, which offer shelter, warmth and a steady supply of flies.

They will set up nests in places used regularly by people. They often nest in porches, carports, and backyard sheds, flying in and out through gaping doors and broken windows.