Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Barn swallows can be found throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. In our region, the barn swallow winters throughout South America and then returns to North America to breed in the summer, covering up to 14,000 miles during the round trip migration! This bird prefers open country, fields, and agricultural lands. It feeds on a variety of insects including aphids, dragonflies, moths, beetles, flies, caterpillars, and bees. The upper sides of the barn swallow are dark, iridescent blue, the belly is an orange-rust colour, and the throat is chestnut. Males are brighter and darker than females. The tails are deeply forked, and the wings are pointed and curved during flight. The size is generally between 15-19 cm long. Barn swallows build cup-like nests made from mud pellets and grass, attached to the sides of man-,made structures, such as barns, houses, and other buildings. The eggs are white with dark speckles. Females lay 3-7 eggs and incubate them for 13-17 days. Both adults tend to the young when they hatch.The once very common barn swallows have shown a steady decline over the past 30 years. Declines have been attributed to pesticide use in much of their range, which has decreased insect availability. Cold spring weather also can affect insect availability, causing young barn swallows to perish when the food source is low. Competition with introduced species, such as the House Sparrow, has also been suggested as a threat to barn swallow populations.