Sisters Country birds


Last updated 8/1/2023 at 10:14am

Photo by Douglas Beall

Barn Swallow.

The Barn Swallow's [Hirundo rustica] distinctive long-forked tail makes it one of the easier North American swallows to identify. It has the most widespread natural distribution among birds in the world. When flying, the feathers are swept back and form a single long point behind the bird. A friend to farmers, these swallows are on an endless search for insects throughout the season.

Barn Swallows build nests under eaves, bridges, cliffs, and maybe your patio. Nests are constructed with mud mixed with grasses and feathers, and up to a thousand trips to the ground for materials are made. The female lays three to eight white eggs, which are spotted with reddish brown, beginning one to three days after nest completion. The eggs are incubated by both adults, with the female incubating longer. Only females have a brood patch. The eggs will hatch after 14 to 16 days of incubation. The young will leave the nest in 18 to 23 days. Barn Swallows eat and feed their young on flying insects caught on the wing.

Two broods a season may be attempted and Barn Swallows will return to the same nest site each season and make repairs to the old nest in order to reuse it.

A group of swallows can be called a "flight," a "gulp," a "swoop," a "kettle," a "herd," or a "richness."

The soul of a Swallow peered from within the cliff.

Then leapt on wings well swift to the current,

As others peeled from nests so well built,

To begin a day in the abundance of air,

As a heart swelled breathless to the feathered affair.


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