Easily recognized by its long forked tail, a barn swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed species worldwide. Read to know some interesting facts and amazing information on barn swallows.

Facts About Barn Swallow

A barn swallow is one of the best known species of the group of long-winged perching birds that reside in most parts of the world. Among all swallows, the barn swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed swallow in the world. Living particularly throughout North America, Asia, Africa and Europe, it is distinguished by its long forked tail. It is dark blue-black in color on the upper body, with a dark rusty throat. The rest of the body is pale rusty in color. A line of white spots can also be found across the outer end of the upper tail. A female barn swallow appears similar to its male counterpart, with main differences being shorter tail streamers, paler under parts and less glossy upper parts. Barn Swallows (have been found to have characteristic feather holes on their wing and tail feathers which are perhaps caused by avian lice like Machaerilaemus malleus and Myrsidea rustica. If you want to learn more about barn swallows, read on further and come across some of the most interesting facts and amazing information about them.
Fast Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
Species: H. rustica
Group Name: Kettle
Length: 7.5-8.5 inches
Wingspan: 12.6-13.6 inches
Weight: 16-25 g
Lifespan: 4-6 years in wild, more than 12 years in captivity
Diet: Insectivorous
Habitat: Waterways and lakes.
Age of Sexual Maturity: 12 months
Gestation Period: 10-21 days
Number of Offspring: 2-7 eggs
Interesting & Amazing Information On Barn Swallows
  • Barn swallows are found in a large number of habitats with open areas, such as agricultural areas, farmlands, cities, highways, marshes, lakeshores, near barns, outbuildings, bridges and culverts.
  • A barn swallow prefers to spend more time in the air, than any other land bird.
  • A barn swallow feeds only on bugs.
  • It is classified into six different subspecies that breed mainly across the Northern Hemisphere. Four of these species are migratory birds that fly to places in Southern Hemisphere like Central Argentina, Cape Province of South Africa and northern Australia in winter.
  • Female barn swallows prefer mating with males, who have a dark reddish chest color and longer and more symmetrical tails.
  • Since, it falls under the category of monogamous species, a male barn swallow pairs with a single female and guards it against other males, who might attempt to mate with its partner.
  • Barn swallows usually mate in the air.
  • While building a mud nest, both male and female barn swallows make up to 1000 trips collecting mud.
  • They build a cup-shaped nest made up of mud lined with grass and feathers. They are known to breed under a rock ledge or in the rafters or eaves of buildings.
  • They breed in the winter season in the temperate parts, such as the mountains of Thailand and in Central Argentina.
  • They are capable of feeding their young while they are in flight.
  • Barn swallows travel in groups with a speed of about 600 miles per day.
  • An unmated male barn swallow can kill the nestlings of a nesting pair. This is done to break up the pair and afford himself an opportunity to mate with the female.
  • The females lay 2 to 7 eggs at a time. In couple of weeks the eggs are incubated and in around 3 weeks’ time the young leave the nest.
  • According to legends, barn swallow stole fire from the gods to bring it to the human race. Gods became infuriated and attacked barn swallow with a firebrand and seared feathers from the middle of its tale and thus barn swallows have forked tails.
  • The Oldest barn swallow was found in North America, which was 8 years and a month old.
  • The Barn Swallow has a global range of 51.7 million sq. km (19.96 million sq. miles). Their estimated population is about 190 million. As per the IUCN Red List, their population is not fast declining and hence there are no threats of extinction.

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