Barn swallow

The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most widespread species of swallow in the world.[2] It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts and a long, deeply forked tail. It is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. In Anglophone Europe it is just called the swallow; in Northern Europe it is the only common species called a "swallow" rather than a "martin".[3]

There are six subspecies of barn swallow, which breed across the Northern Hemisphere. Four are strongly migratory, and their wintering grounds cover much of the Southern Hemisphere as far south as central Argentina, the Cape Province of South Africa, and northern Australia. Its huge range means that the barn swallow is not endangered, although there may be local population declines due to specific threats.

The barn swallow is a bird of open country that normally uses man-made structures to breed and consequently has spread with human expansion. It builds a cup nest from mud pellets in barns or similar structures and feeds on insects caught in flight.[4] This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by humans; this acceptance was reinforced in the past by superstitions regarding the bird and its nest. There are frequent cultural references to the barn swallow in literary and religious works due to both its living in close proximity to humans and its annual migration.[5] The barn swallow is the national bird of Estonia.

Barn swallow
H. r. rustica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
H. rustica
Binomial name
Hirundo rustica

6, see text

Hirundo rustica
Range of H. rustica      Breeding range     Resident year-round     Non-breeding range
  • Hirundo erythrogaster (Boddaert, 1783)


Barn Swallow Range
Reported range from observations submitted to eBird shows the migration pattern of the species     Year-round range     Summer range     Winter range

The adult male barn swallow of the nominate subspecies H. r. rustica is 17–19 cm (6.7–7.5 in) long including 2–7 cm (0.79–2.76 in) of elongated outer tail feathers. It has a wingspan of 32–34.5 cm (12.6–13.6 in) and weighs 16–22 g (0.56–0.78 oz). It has steel blue upperparts and a rufous forehead, chin and throat, which are separated from the off-white underparts by a broad dark blue breast band. The outer tail feathers are elongated, giving the distinctive deeply forked "swallow tail". There is a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail.[4] The female is similar in appearance to the male, but the tail streamers are shorter, the blue of the upperparts and breast band is less glossy, and the underparts paler. The juvenile is browner and has a paler rufous face and whiter underparts. It also lacks the long tail streamers of the adult.[2]

The song of the male barn swallow is a cheerful warble, often ending with su-seer with the second note higher than the first but falling in pitch. Calls include witt or witt-witt and a loud splee-plink when excited (or trying to chase intruders away from the nest).[4] The alarm calls include a sharp siflitt for predators like cats and a flitt-flitt for birds of prey like the hobby.[6] This species is fairly quiet on the wintering grounds.[7]

The distinctive combination of a red face and blue breast band render the adult barn swallow easy to distinguish from the African Hirundo species and from the welcome swallow (Hirundo neoxena) with which its range overlaps in Australasia.[2] In Africa the short tail streamers of the juvenile barn swallow invite confusion with juvenile red-chested swallow (Hirundo lucida), but the latter has a narrower breast band and more white in the tail.[8]


The barn swallow was described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Hirundo rustica, characterised as H. rectricibus, exceptis duabus intermediis, macula alba notatîs.[9] Hirundo is the Latin word for "swallow"; rusticus means "of the country".[10] This species is the only one of that genus to have a range extending into the Americas, with the majority of Hirundo species being native to Africa. This genus of blue-backed swallows is sometimes called the "barn swallows".[2][3]

The Oxford English Dictionary dates the English common name "barn swallow" to 1851,[11] though an earlier instance of the collocation in an English-language context is in Gilbert White's popular book The Natural History of Selborne, originally published in 1789:

The swallow, though called the chimney-swallow, by no means builds altogether in chimnies [sic], but often within barns and out-houses against the rafters ... In Sweden she builds in barns, and is called ladusvala, the barn-swallow.[12]

This suggests that the English name may be a calque on the Swedish term.

There are few taxonomic problems within the genus, but the red-chested swallow—a resident of West Africa, the Congo basin, and Ethiopia—was formerly treated as a subspecies of barn swallow. The red-chested swallow is slightly smaller than its migratory relative, has a narrower blue breast-band, and (in the adult) has shorter tail streamers. In flight, it looks paler underneath than barn swallow.[8]


Video clip

Six subspecies of barn swallow are generally recognised. In eastern Asia, a number of additional or alternative forms have been proposed, including saturata by Robert Ridgway in 1883,[13] kamtschatica by Benedykt Dybowski in 1883,[14] ambigua by Erwin Stresemann[15] and mandschurica by Wilhelm Meise in 1934.[13] Given the uncertainties over the validity of these forms,[14][16] this article follows the treatment of Turner and Rose.[2]

  • H. r. rustica, the nominate European subspecies, breeds in Europe and Asia, as far north as the Arctic Circle, south to North Africa, the Middle East and Sikkim, and east to the Yenisei River. It migrates on a broad front to winter in Africa, Arabia, and the Indian subcontinent.[2] The barn swallows wintering in southern Africa are from across Eurasia to at least 91°E,[17] and have been recorded as covering up to 11,660 km (7,250 mi) on their annual migration.[18] The nominate European subspecies was the first to have its genome sequenced and published.[19]
  • H. r. transitiva was described by Ernst Hartert in 1910. It breeds in the Middle East from southern Turkey to Israel and is partially resident, though some birds winter in East Africa. It has orange red underparts and a broken breast band.[2]
  • H. r. savignii, the resident Egyptian subspecies, was described by James Stephens in 1817 and named for French zoologist Marie Jules César Savigny.[20] It resembles transitiva, which also has orange-red underparts, but savignii has a complete broad breast band and deeper red hue to the underparts.[6]
  • H. r. gutturalis, described by Giovanni Antonio Scopoli in 1786,[13] has whitish underparts and a broken breast band. Breast chestnut and lower underparts more pink-buff.[21] The populations that breed in the central and eastern Himalayas have been included in this subspecies,[22] although the primary breeding range is Japan and Korea. The east Asian breeders winter across tropical Asia from India and Sri Lanka[23] east to Indonesia and New Guinea. Increasing numbers are wintering in Australia. It hybridises with H. r. tytleri in the Amur River area. It is thought that the two eastern Asia forms were once geographically separate, but the nest sites provided by expanding human habitation allowed the ranges to overlap.[2] H. r. gutturalis is a vagrant to Alaska and Washington,[24] but is easily distinguished from the North American breeding subspecies, H. r. erythrogaster, by the latter's reddish underparts.[2]
  • H. r. tytleri, first described by Thomas Jerdon in 1864, and named for British soldier, naturalist and photographer Robert Christopher Tytler,[13] has deep orange-red underparts and an incomplete breast band. The tail is also longer.[21] It breeds in central Siberia south to northern Mongolia and winters from eastern Bengal east to Thailand and Malaysia.[2]
BarnSwallow cajay
H. r. erythrogaster in Washington State, US
  • H. r. erythrogaster, the North American subspecies described by Pieter Boddaert in 1783,[13] differs from the European subspecies in having redder underparts and a narrower, often incomplete, blue breast band. It breeds throughout North America, from Alaska to southern Mexico, and migrates to the Lesser Antilles, Costa Rica, Panama and South America to winter.[7] A few may winter in the southernmost parts of the breeding range. This subspecies funnels through Central America on a narrow front and is therefore abundant on passage in the lowlands of both coasts.[25]

The short wings, red belly and incomplete breast band of H. r. tytleri are also found in H. r. erythrogaster, and DNA analyses show that barn swallows from North America colonised the Baikal region of Siberia, a dispersal direction opposite to that for most changes in distribution between North America and Eurasia.[26]


Habitat and range

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica) juveniles
H. r. rustica juveniles
In slow motion

The preferred habitat of the barn swallow is open country with low vegetation, such as pasture, meadows and farmland, preferably with nearby water. This swallow avoids heavily wooded or precipitous areas and densely built-up locations. The presence of accessible open structures such as barns, stables, or culverts to provide nesting sites, and exposed locations such as wires, roof ridges or bare branches for perching, are also important in the bird's selection of its breeding range.[4]

It breeds in the Northern Hemisphere from sea level to typically 2,700 m (8,900 ft),[27] but to 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in the Caucasus[4] and North America,[28] and it is absent only from deserts and the cold northernmost parts of the continents. Over much of its range, it avoids towns, and in Europe is replaced in urban areas by the house martin. However, in Honshū, Japan, the barn swallow is a more urban bird, with the red-rumped swallow (Cecropis daurica) replacing it as the rural species.[2]

In winter, the barn swallow is cosmopolitan in its choice of habitat, avoiding only dense forests and deserts.[29] It is most common in open, low vegetation habitats, such as savanna and ranch land, and in Venezuela, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago it is described as being particularly attracted to burnt or harvested sugarcane fields and the waste from the cane.[7][30][31] In the absence of suitable roost sites, they may sometimes roost on wires where they are more exposed to predators.[32] Individual birds tend to return to the same wintering locality each year[33] and congregate from a large area to roost in reed beds.[30] These roosts can be extremely large; one in Nigeria had an estimated 1.5 million birds.[34] These roosts are thought to be a protection from predators, and the arrival of roosting birds is synchronised in order to overwhelm predators like African hobbies. The barn swallow has been recorded as breeding in the more temperate parts of its winter range, such as the mountains of Thailand and in central Argentina.[2][35]

Migration of barn swallows between Britain and South Africa was first established on 23 December 1912 when a bird that had been ringed by James Masefield at a nest in Staffordshire, was found in Natal.[36] As would be expected for a long-distance migrant, this bird has occurred as a vagrant to such distant areas as Hawaii, Bermuda, Greenland, Tristan da Cunha the Falkland Islands,[2] and even Antarctica.[37]


Swallow August 2013-2
Chicks in the nest

The barn swallow is similar in its habits to other aerial insectivores, including other swallow species and the unrelated swifts. It is not a particularly fast flier, with a speed estimated at about 11 m/s, up to 20 m/s and a wing beat rate of approximately 5, up to 7–9 times each second.[38][39]

The barn swallow typically feeds in open areas[40] 7–8 m (23–26 ft) above shallow water or the ground often following animals, humans or farm machinery to catch disturbed insects, but it will occasionally pick prey items from the water surface, walls and plants.[4] In the breeding areas, large flies make up around 70% of the diet, with aphids also a significant component. However, in Europe, the barn swallow consumes fewer aphids than the house or sand martins.[4] On the wintering grounds, Hymenoptera, especially flying ants, are important food items.[2] When egg-laying, barn swallows hunt in pairs, but will form often large flocks otherwise.[2]

The amount of food a clutch will get depends on the size of the clutch, with larger clutches getting more food on average. The timing of a clutch also determines the food given; later broods get food that is smaller in size compared to earlier broods. This is because larger insects are too far away from the nest to be profitable in terms of energy expenditure.[41]

Isotope studies have shown that wintering populations may utilise different feeding habitats, with British breeders feeding mostly over grassland, whereas Swiss birds utilised woodland more.[42] Another study showed that a single population breeding in Denmark actually wintered in two separate and different areas.[43]

The barn swallow drinks by skimming low over lakes or rivers and scooping up water with its open mouth.[28] This bird bathes in a similar fashion, dipping into the water for an instant while in flight.[33]

Swallows gather in communal roosts after breeding, sometimes thousands strong. Reed beds are regularly favoured, with the birds swirling en masse before swooping low over the reeds.[6] Reed beds are an important source of food prior to and whilst on migration; although the barn swallow is a diurnal migrant that can feed on the wing whilst it travels low over ground or water, the reed beds enable fat deposits to be established or replenished.[44]


Four well grown chicks in a nest
Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica) singing
H. r. rustica fledgling begging
Hirundo rustica -West Sussex, England -chick-8
Juvenile bird in Sussex

The male barn swallow returns to the breeding grounds before the females and selects a nest site, which is then advertised to females with a circling flight and song.[4] Plumage may be used to advertise: in some populations, like in the subspecies H. r. gutturalis, darker ventral plumage in males is associated with higher breeding success. In other populations,[45] the breeding success of the male is related to the length of the tail streamers, with longer streamers being more attractive to the female.[4][46] Males with longer tail feathers are generally longer-lived and more disease resistant, females thus gaining an indirect fitness benefit from this form of selection, since longer tail feathers indicate a genetically stronger individual which will produce offspring with enhanced vitality.[47] Males in northern Europe have longer tails than those further south; whereas in Spain the male's tail streamers are only 5% longer than the female's, in Finland the difference is 20%. In Denmark, the average male tail length increased by 9% between 1984 and 2004, but it is possible that climatic changes may lead in the future to shorter tails if summers become hot and dry.[48]

Males with long streamers also have larger white tail spots, and since feather-eating bird lice prefer white feathers, large white tail spots without parasite damage again demonstrate breeding quality; there is a positive association between spot size and the number of offspring produced each season.[49]

The breeding season of the barn swallow is variable; in the southern part of the range, the breeding season usually is from February or March to early to mid September, although some late second and third broods finish in October. In the northern part of the range, it usually starts late May to early June and ends the same time as the breeding season of the southernmost birds.[50]

Both sexes defend the nest, but the male is particularly aggressive and territorial.[2] Once established, pairs stay together to breed for life, but extra-pair copulation is common, making this species genetically polygamous, despite being socially monogamous.[51] Males guard females actively to avoid being cuckolded.[52] Males may use deceptive alarm calls to disrupt extrapair copulation attempts toward their mates.[53]

As its name implies, the barn swallow typically nests inside accessible buildings such as barns and stables, or under bridges and wharves.[54] Before man-made sites became common, it nested on cliff faces or in caves, but this is now rare.[2] The neat cup-shaped nest is placed on a beam or against a suitable vertical projection. It is constructed by both sexes, although more often by the female, with mud pellets collected in their beaks and lined with grasses, feathers, algae[54] or other soft materials.[2] The nest building ability of the male is also sexually selected; females will lay more eggs and at an earlier date with males who are better at nest construction, with the opposite being true with males that are not.[55] After building the nest, barn swallows may nest colonially where sufficient high-quality nest sites are available, and within a colony, each pair defends a territory around the nest which, for the European subspecies, is 4 to 8 m2 (43 to 86 sq ft) in size. Colony size tends to be larger in North America.[28]

In North America at least, barn swallows frequently engage in a mutualist relationship with ospreys. Barn swallows will build their nest below an osprey nest, receiving protection from other birds of prey that are repelled by the exclusively fish-eating ospreys. The ospreys are alerted to the presence of these predators by the alarm calls of the swallows.[28]

There are normally two broods, with the original nest being reused for the second brood and being repaired and reused in subsequent years. The female lays two to seven, but typically four or five, reddish-spotted white eggs.[2] The clutch size is influenced by latitude, with clutch sizes of northern populations being higher on average than southern populations.[56] The eggs are 20 mm × 14 mm (0.79 in × 0.55 in) in size, and weigh 1.9 g (0.067 oz), of which 5% is shell. In Europe, the female does almost all the incubation, but in North America the male may incubate up to 25% of the time. The incubation period is normally 14–19 days, with another 18–23 days before the altricial chicks fledge. The fledged young stay with, and are fed by, the parents for about a week after leaving the nest. Occasionally, first-year birds from the first brood will assist in feeding the second brood.[2] Compared to those from early broods, juvenile barn swallows from late broods have been found to migrate at a younger age, fuel less efficiently during migration and have lower return rates the following year.[57]

The barn swallow will mob intruders such as cats or accipiters that venture too close to their nest, often flying very close to the threat.[47] Adult barn swallows have few predators, but some are taken by accipiters, falcons, and owls. Brood parasitism by cowbirds in North America or cuckoos in Eurasia is rare.[4][28]

Hatching success is 90% and the fledging survival rate is 70–90%. Average mortality is 70–80% in the first year and 40–70% for the adult. Although the record age is more than 11 years, most survive less than four years.[2] Barn swallow nestlings have prominent red gapes, a feature shown to induce feeding by parent birds. An experiment in manipulating brood size and immune system showed the vividness of the gape was positively correlated with T-cell–mediated immunocompetence, and that larger brood size and injection with an antigen led to a less vivid gape.[58]

The barn swallow has been recorded as hybridising with the cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) and the cave swallow (P. fulva) in North America, and the house martin (Delichon urbicum) in Eurasia, the cross with the latter being one of the most common passerine hybrids.[47]

Hirundo rustica MHNT

Eggs in the Muséum de Toulouse

A chick less than an hour after being born


Chicks and eggs in a nest with horse hair lining

Hirundo rustica 14105

Older chicks in nest

Barn swallow (feeding) at Tennōji Park in Osaka, June 2016

Juvenile being fed

Parasites and predators

Feather hole
Feeding trace of Brueelia lice on a tail feather

Barn swallows (and other small passerines) often have characteristic feather holes on their wing and tail feathers. These holes were suggested as being caused by avian lice such as Machaerilaemus malleus and Myrsidea rustica, although other studies suggest that they are mainly caused by species of Brueelia. Several other species of lice have been described from barn swallow hosts, including Brueelia domestica and Philopterus microsomaticus.[59][60] The avian lice prefer to feed on white tail spots, and they are generally found more numerously on short-tailed males, indicating the function of unbroken white tail spots as a measure of quality.[61] In Texas, the swallow bug (Oeciacus vicarius), which is common on species such as the cliff swallow, is also known to infest barn swallows.[62]

Predatory bats such as the greater false vampire bat are known to prey on barn swallows.[63] Swallows at their communal roosts attract predators and several falcon species make use of these opportunities. Falcon species confirmed as predators include the peregrine falcon[64] and the African hobby.[34]


The barn swallow has an enormous range, with an estimated global extent of 51,700,000 km2 (20,000,000 sq mi) and a population of 190 million individuals. The species is evaluated as least concern on the 2007 IUCN Red List,[1] and has no special status under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants.[28]

This is a species that has greatly benefited historically from forest clearance, which has created the open habitats it prefers, and from human habitation, which have given it an abundance of safe man-made nest sites. There have been local declines due to the use of DDT in Israel in the 1950s, competition for nest sites with house sparrows in the US in the 19th century, and an ongoing gradual decline in numbers in parts of Europe and Asia due to agricultural intensification, reducing the availability of insect food. However, there has been an increase in the population in North America during the 20th century with the greater availability of nesting sites and subsequent range expansion, including the colonisation of northern Alberta.[2]

A specific threat to wintering birds from the European populations is the transformation by the South African government of a light aircraft runway near Durban into an international airport for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The roughly 250 m (270 yd) square Mount Moreland reed bed is a night roost for more than three million barn swallows, which represent 1% of the global population and 8% of the European breeding population. The reed bed lies on the flight path of aircraft using the proposed La Mercy airport, and there were fears that it would be cleared because the birds could threaten aircraft safety.[65][66] However, following detailed evaluation, advanced radar technology will be installed to enable planes using the airport to be warned of bird movements and, if necessary, take appropriate measures to avoid the flocks.[30]

Climate change may affect the barn swallow; drought causes weight loss and slow feather regrowth, and the expansion of the Sahara will make it a more formidable obstacle for migrating European birds. Hot dry summers will reduce the availability of insect food for chicks. Conversely, warmer springs may lengthen the breeding season and result in more chicks, and the opportunity to use nest sites outside buildings in the north of the range might also lead to more offspring.[48]

Relationship with humans

The barn swallow is an attractive bird that feeds on flying insects and has therefore been tolerated by humans when it shares their buildings for nesting. As one of the earlier migrants, this conspicuous species is also seen as an early sign of summer's approach.[67]

In the Old World, the barn swallow appears to have used man-made structures and bridges since time immemorial. An early reference is in Virgil's Georgics (29 BC), "Ante garrula quam tignis nidum suspendat hirundo" (Before the twittering swallow hangs its nest from the rafters).[68]

Many cattle farmers believed that swallows spread Salmonella infections, however a study in Sweden showed no evidence of the birds being reservoirs of the bacteria.[69]

In literature

Many literary references are based on the barn swallow's northward migration as a symbol of spring or summer. The proverb about the necessity for more than one piece of evidence goes back at least to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: "For as one swallow or one day does not make a spring, so one day or a short time does not make a fortunate or happy man."[67]

The barn swallow symbolises the coming of spring and thus love in the Pervigilium Veneris, a late Latin poem. In his poem "The Waste Land", T. S. Eliot quoted the line "Quando fiam uti chelidon [ut tacere desinam]?" ("When will I be like the swallow, so that I can stop being silent?") This refers to the myth of Philomela in which she turns into a nightingale, and her sister Procne into a swallow.[70] On the other hand, an image of the assembly of swallows for their southward migration concludes John Keats's ode "To Autumn".

The swallow is cited in several of William Shakespeare's plays for the swiftness of its flight, with "True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings" from Act 5 of Richard III, and "I have horse will follow where the game Makes way, and run like swallows o'er the plain." from the second act of Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare references the annual migration of the species in The Winter's Tale, Act 4: "Daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty".

In culture

Gilbert White studied the barn swallow in detail in his pioneering work The Natural History of Selborne, but even this careful observer was uncertain whether it migrated or hibernated in winter.[12] Elsewhere, its long journeys have been well observed, and a swallow tattoo is popular amongst nautical men as a symbol of a safe return; the tradition was that a mariner had a tattoo of this fellow wanderer after sailing 5,000 nmi (9,300 km; 5,800 mi). A second swallow would be added after 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at sea.[71] In the past, the tolerance for this beneficial insectivore was reinforced by superstitions regarding damage to the barn swallow's nest. Such an act might lead to cows giving bloody milk, or no milk at all, or to hens ceasing to lay.[5] This may be a factor in the longevity of swallows' nests. Survival, with suitable annual refurbishment, for 10–15 years is regular, and one nest was reported to have been occupied for 48 years.[5]

It is depicted as the Martlet, Merlette or Merlot in heraldry, where it represents younger sons who have no lands. It is also represented as lacking feet as this was a common belief at the time.[72] As a result of a campaign by ornithologists, the barn swallow has been the national bird of Estonia since 23 June 1960.[73][74]

See also


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Hirundo rustica". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Turner, Angela K; Rose, Chris (1989). Swallows & Martins: An Identification Guide and Handbook. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-51174-9. p164–169
  3. ^ a b See Gill, Frank, and Wright, Minturn, Birds of the World: Recommended English Names (Princeton 2006), ISBN 978-0-691-12827-6
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Snow, David; Perrins, Christopher M, eds. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic concise edition (2 volumes). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-854099-1. p1061–1064
  5. ^ a b c Cocker, Mark; Mabey, Richard (2005). Birds Britannica. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-0-7011-6907-7.
  6. ^ a b c Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-219728-1. p242
  7. ^ a b c Hilty, Steven L (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 978-0-7136-6418-8. p691
  8. ^ a b Barlow, Clive; Wacher, Tim; Disley, Tony (1997). A Field Guide to birds of The Gambia and Senegal. Robertsbridge: Pica Press. ISBN 978-1-873403-32-7. p279
  9. ^ Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata (in Latin). Holmiae. (Laurentii Salvii). p. 191.
  10. ^ Lewis, Charlton T (1888). A Latin dictionary for schools. Harper & Brothers. ISBN 978-0-19-910204-4.
  11. ^ "Barn". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  12. ^ a b White, Gilbert (1789). The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne. London: T. Bensley. pp. 167–68. ISBN 978-0-905418-96-4.
  13. ^ a b c d e Dickinson, Edward C.; Eck, Siegfried; Christopher M. Milensky (2002). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 31. Eastern races of the barn swallow Hirundo rustica Linnaeus, 1758". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 340: 201–203. ISSN 0024-1652. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
  14. ^ a b Dickinson, Edward C.; René Dekker (2001). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 13. A preliminary review of the Hirundinidae". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 335: 127–144. ISSN 0024-1652. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
  15. ^ Stresemann, E (1940). "Welche Rasse von Hirundo rustica bretet in Sikkim?". Ornithologischen Monatsbericht (in German). 48 (3): 88–89.
  16. ^ Vaurie, Charles (1951). "Notes on some Asiatic swallows". American Museum Novitates. 1529: 1–47. hdl:2246/3915.
  17. ^ "European Swallow Hirundo rustica". SAFRING results. Avian Demography Unit, Department of Statistical Sciences, University of Cape Town. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Bird ringing across the world". EURING Newsletter — Volume 1, November 1996. Euring. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  19. ^ Formenti, Giulio (2018). "SMRT long reads and Direct Label and Stain optical maps allow the generation of a high-quality genome assembly for the European barn swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica)". GigaScience. 8. doi:10.1093/gigascience/giy142. PMID 30496513.
  20. ^ Dekker, René (2003). "Type specimens of birds. Part 2". NNM Technical Bulletin. 6: 20. Retrieved 24 November 2001.
  21. ^ a b Rasmussen, Pamela C.; John C. Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-87334-67-2.
  22. ^ Whistler, H (1937). "The breeding Swallow of the Western Himalayas". Ibis. 79 (2): 413–415. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1937.tb02182.x.
  23. ^ Whistler, H (1940). "The Common Swallow Hirundo rustica rustica in Ceylon". Ibis. 82 (3): 539. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1940.tb01671.x.
  24. ^ Sibley, David (2000). The North American Bird Guide. Pica Press. ISBN 978-1-873403-98-3.
  25. ^ Stiles, Gary; Skutch, Alexander (2003). A guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-2287-4. p343
  26. ^ Zink, Robert M; Pavlova, Alexandra; Rohwer, Sievert; Drovetski, Sergei V (2006). "Barn swallows before barns: population histories and intercontinental colonization" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Society: Proceedings B. 273 (1591): 1245–1251. doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3414. PMC 1560278. PMID 16720398.
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Further reading

  • Smiddy, P (2010). "Post-fledging roosting at the nest in juvenile barn swallows (Hirundo rustica)". Ir. Nat. J. 31: 44–46.

External links

500 krooni

The 500 krooni banknote (500 EEK) is a denomination of the Estonian kroon, the former currency of Estonia. Carl Robert Jakobson (1841–1882), who was an Estonian politician, publisher, writer and promoter of agriculture, is featured on the front side of the bill, which is why the 500 krooni bill is often called a "Jakobson".

A barn swallow in flight on a landscape background is featured on the reverse side of the banknote. Before the replacement of the EEK by the euro, the 500 krooni banknote was commonly dispensed by ATMs in Estonia as well as the primary banknote used for withdrawals or cashing checks. It can be exchanged indefinitely at the currency museum of Eesti Pank for €31.96.

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary

Attiveri Bird Sanctuary (Kannada: ಅತ್ತಿವೇರಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಧಾಮ) is a village in the Mundgod taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the Indian state of Karnataka. It lies 15 km from Mundgod and 43 km from Hubli-Dharwad.

Spread over an area of about 2.23 km2, the sanctuary is located in and around the Attiveri reservoir. The part of the sanctuary surrounding the reservoir has riverine and deciduous forests.

Birds inhabiting this area include cattle egret, Indian and little cormorants, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, pied and white-throated kingfishers, Indian grey hornbill and barn swallow. The agricultural fields surrounding the sanctuary attract a variety of aquatic creatures.

The best time to visit the sanctuary is between November and March.

Common house martin

The common house martin (Delichon urbicum), sometimes called the northern house martin or, particularly in Europe, just house martin, is a migratory passerine bird of the swallow family which breeds in Europe, north Africa and temperate Asia; and winters in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia. It feeds on insects which are caught in flight, and it migrates to climates where flying insects are plentiful. It has a blue head and upperparts, white rump and pure white underparts, and is found in both open country and near human habitation. It is similar in appearance to the two other martin species of the genus Delichon, which are both endemic to eastern and southern Asia. It has two accepted subspecies.

Both the scientific and colloquial name of the bird are related to its use of human-made structures. It builds a closed cup nest from mud pellets under eaves or similar locations on buildings usually in colonies.

It is hunted by the Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo), and like other birds is affected by internal parasites and external fleas and mites, although its large range and population mean that it is not threatened globally.

Common swift

The common swift (Apus apus) is a medium-sized bird, superficially similar to the barn swallow or house martin but somewhat larger, though not stemming from those passerine species, being in the order Apodiformes. The resemblances between the groups are due to convergent evolution, reflecting similar contextual development. The swifts' nearest relatives are the New World hummingbirds and the Southeast Asian treeswifts.

Its scientific name Apus is Latin for a swift, thought by the ancients to be a type of swallow with no feet (from Ancient Greek α, a, "without", and πούς, pous, "foot").Swifts have very short legs which they use primarily for clinging to vertical surfaces (hence the German name Mauersegler, literally meaning "wall-glider"). They never settle voluntarily on the ground, where they would be vulnerable to accidents and predation, and non-breeding individuals may spend up to ten months in continuous flight.

Feather hole

Feather holes often characteristically occur on wing and tail feathers of some small-bodied species of passerines. In the case of barn swallows, it was suggested that the holes were feeding traces of avian lice, either Machaerilaemus malleus and/or Myrsidea rustica (both Phthiraptera: Amblycera).Hole counts were shown to be highly repeatable, and thus counts appeared to be useful measures to quantify the intensity of infestation. Since then, a number of influential papers have been published on the evolutionary, ecological, and behavioral aspects of host-parasite interactions based on the assumption that holes were chewed by Machaerilaemus malleus. More specifically, host sexual selection, feather breakage, flight performance, immunity levels, arrival dates, and even song characteristics were shown to covary with the number of holes. Cross-fostering experiments showed that infestation levels were heritable.Recently, however, it was shown that Machaerilaemus malleus is apparently absent from Europe, where all these studies were carried out. Correlational evidence supports the hypothesis that feather holes are feeding traces of lice, however, the occurrence of Brueelia spp. lice (Phthiraptera: Ischnocera) provides the best fit to the distribution and abundance of feather holes both in barn swallows and across several small passerines.

Fogarty's Cove Music

Fogarty's Cove Music is a Canadian independent record label founded by Stan Rogers in 1978, surrounding the production of Rogers' second album, Turnaround. Fogarty's Cove Music is based in Dundas, Ontario, Canada.

Hill swallow

The hill swallow (Hirundo domicola) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It breeds in southern India and Sri Lanka. It is resident apart from some local seasonal movements. This bird is associated with coasts, but is increasingly spreading to forested uplands. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Pacific swallow.

This species is a small swallow at 13 cm. It has a blue back with browner wings and tail, a red face and throat, and dusky underparts. It differs from barn swallow and the closely related welcome swallow in its shorter and less forked tail.The hill swallow builds a neat cup-shaped nest, constructed with mud pellets collected in the beak, under a cliff ledge or on a man-made structures such as a building, bridge or tunnel. The nest is lined with softer material, and the clutch is up to four eggs. Detailed studies on the breeding ecology of the species was conducted in Silent Valley National Park and Muthikkulam reserve forests of Kerala. It is similar in behaviour to other aerial insectivores, such as other swallows and the unrelated swifts. It is a fast flyer and feeds on insects, especially flies, while airborne.


The bird genus Hirundo is a group of passerines in the family Hirundinidae (swallows and martins). The genus name is Latin for a swallow. These are the typical swallows, including the widespread barn swallow. Many of this group have blue backs, red on the face and sometimes the rump or nape, and whitish or rufous underparts. With fifteen species this genus is the largest in its family.

Island View Beach

Island View Beach is located on the Eastern Cordova shore of the Saanich Peninsula, near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

A real treasure for people who like quiet nature settings, with views of Mount Baker, and Islands of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve. (Sidney Spit-(Sidney Island) and D'Arcy Island)

Families and Nature Enthusiasts will enjoy walking the many meadow trails, to learn about the various plant and animal species. ( not all trails are accessible for persons who require hard flat surfaces). There is several kilometers of shoreline for walking, with excellent shorebird viewing, and millions of interesting rocks along the way.

Much of the southern part of the foreshore make up the public Island View Beach Regional Park. Long inhabited by the native [Coast Salish peoples], the Tsawout First Nation has a reservation fronting much of the northern end of the beach. The Tsawout have been living and gathering seafood from the ocean and well as gathering local medicinal plants, as part of the culture for thousands of years. The first known European visitors were James Douglas and first mate Scott M. Jenkin in the latter half of the 18th century. Located southwest of James Island, to locals it is known as the "Beach of Destiny". Located at Homathko and Puckle Road, public parking. There is a public campground (part of the regional park) which is open for the summer season from the Victoria Day long weekend in May to the Labour Day long weekend in September.

Visitors should be aware there is off leash dog restrictions from June 1 to September 15. Dogs should be kept on leash in beach and picnic areas and are not allowed to stay overnight. Island View Beach Regional Park ("I-View") is a BC Regional Park, therefore facilities are located for those who are in need of garbage cans and or washrooms. Island View Beach has a boat launch for access to Haro Strait and the Cordova Channel.

Visitors and Nature Photographers are treated in the spring and fall, to view migratory birds that stop here to rest and feed . Presently there is concern in conservation of the Beach, Sand Dune, and Salt Marsh that support a vast eco system, (endangered Species) within the Island View Beach area. An outdated park plan exists, which is presently under review, and will be updated to reflect conservation strategies.

The Island View Beach terrain consists of beach, dune, and marshland, that supports a wide range of local wild animal and plant species. Due to human activity over the last century this ecological area has placed local wild animal and plant species to possible risk, and endangerment.

Possible species at risk have been identified as:

Contorted Pod Evening Primrose,

Sand Verbena moth,

Common Night Hawk,

Bank Swallow,

Barn Swallow,

Marbled Murrelet,

Olive-sided Flycatcher,

Peregrine Falcon,

Horned Grebe,

Great Blue Heron,

Short-eared Owl,

Long-billed Curlew,

Western Grebe,

Ancient Murrelet,

Band-tailed Pigeon,

Georgia Basin Bog Spider,

Common Murre,

Brandt's Cormorant,


Cackling Goose,

Long-tailed Duck,

California Gull,

Surf Scoter,

Red-necked Phalarope,

Purple Martin,

Yellow Sand-verbena,

Beach Bindweed,

American Glehnia,

Fleshy Jaumea,

Black Knotweed,

Double-crested Cormorant,

Snowy Owl,

Caspian Tern

Järveküla Nature Reserve

Järveküla Nature Reserve is a nature reserve founded in 1990, situated by Lake Vörtsjärv in southern Estonia (Viljandi County) near the village of Järveküla. The nature reserve has been established to protect the population of white-tailed eagles present in the area, and includes pine forest and patches of bog.Other birds found in Järveküla Nature Reserve include: the Barn swallow (the national bird of Estonia), Eurasian wryneck, Eurasian golden oriole, Icterine warbler, River warbler, Spotted flycatcher, Eurasian tree sparrow, Common chaffinch, European greenfinch, European pied flycatcher, Eurasian skylark, Fieldfare, White wagtail, Yellowhammer, Hooded crow, Garden warbler, Grey heron, Eurasian blue tit, Eurasian blackcap, Common rosefinch, European goldfinch and Common chiffchaff among others.

List of birds of Islamabad

This is a list of birds found in Islamabad, Pakistan. Seventy-two species of birds have been found in this area. The best places to watch are Margalla Hills and Rawal Lake.

Little grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis

Little cormorant, Microcarbo niger

Great cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo

Black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax

Indian pond heron (Paddybird), Ardeola grayii

Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis

Little egret, Egretta garzetta

Intermediate egret, Egretta intermedia

Grey heron, Ardea cinerea

Purple heron, Ardea purpurea

Common teal, Anas crecca

Black kite, Milvus migrans

Shikra, Accipiter badius

Long-legged buzzard, Buteo rufinus

Eurasian kestrel, Falco tinnunculus

Grey francolin, Francolinus pondicerianus

Common quail, Coturnix coturnix

Brown waterhen, Amaurornis akool

White-breasted waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus

Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus

Eurasian coot, Fulica atra

Red-wattled lapwing, Hoplopterus indicus

Common sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos

Black-headed gull, Larus ridibundus

Feral pigeon, Columba livia

Wood pigeon, Columba palumbus

Collared dove, Streptopelia decaocto

Palm dove, Spilopelia senegalensis

Spotted dove, Spilopelia chinensis

Rose-ringed parakeet, Psittacula krameri

Common koel, Eudynamys scolopacea

Greater coucal, Centropus sinensis

House swift, Apus affinis

White-throated kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis

Pied kingfisher, Ceryle rudis

Hoopoe, Upupa epops

Lesser golden-backed woodpecker, Dinopium benghalense

Brown-fronted woodpecker, Dendrocopos auriceps

Crested lark, Galerida cristata

Small skylark, Alauda gulgula

Brown-throated sand martin, Riparia paludicola

Pale sand martin, Riparia diluta

Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica

Red-rumped swallow, Hirundo daurica

Paddyfield pipit, Anthus rufulus

Grey wagtail, Motacilla cinerea

White wagtail, Motacilla alba

Large pied wagtail, Motacilla maderaspatensis

Himalayan bulbul, Pycnonotus leucogenys

Red-vented bulbul, Pycnonotus cafer

Dark-grey bushchat, Saxicola ferrea

Blue rock thrush, Monticola solitarius

Blue whistling thrush, Myophonus caeruleus

Fan-tailed warbler, Cisticola juncidis

Tawny prinia, Prinia inornata

Yellow-bellied prinia, Prinia flaviventris

Hume's leaf warbler, Phylloscopus humei

White-throated fantail, Rhipidura albicollis

Black-chinned babbler, Stachyris pyrrhops

Common babbler, Turdoides caudatus

Jungle babbler, Turdoides striatus

Great tit, Parus major

Bar-tailed treecreeper, Certhia himalayana

Oriental white-eye, Zosterops palpebrosus

Rufous-backed shrike, Lanius schach

Black drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus

House crow, Corvus splendens

Brahminy starling, Sturnus pagodarum

Common myna, Acridotheres tristis

Bank myna, Acridotheres ginginianus

House sparrow, Passer domesticus

Alexandrine parakeet, Psittacula eupatria

Green bee-eater, Merops orientalis

Rufous treepie, Dendrocitta vagabunda

Indian robin, Saxicoloides fulicatus

Mount Moreland

Mount Moreland is a small community located in the eThekwini municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is located slightly inland of Umdloti, just over 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of the city of Durban, and 2.6 kilometres (1.6 mi) to the south of Durban's King Shaka International Airport.

The community is renowned as being the location of an important roosting site for the European barn swallow and accordingly attracts visitors to the area mid October to mid April.

National symbols of Estonia

The national symbols of Estonia are flags, coat of arms, icons or cultural expressions that are emblematic, representative or otherwise characteristic of Estonia or Estonian culture.

Pacific swallow

The Pacific swallow (Hirundo tahitica) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It breeds in tropical southern Asia and the islands of the south Pacific. It is resident apart from some local seasonal movements. This bird is associated with coasts, but is increasingly spreading to forested uplands. The hill swallow was formerly considered conspecific.

This species is a small swallow at 13 cm. It has a blue back with browner wings and tail, a red face and throat, and dusky underparts. It differs from the barn swallow and the closely related welcome swallow in its shorter and less forked tail.The Pacific swallow builds a neat cup-shaped nest, constructed with mud pellets collected in the beak, under a cliff ledge or on a man-made structures such as a building, bridge or tunnel. The nest is lined with softer material, and the clutch is two to three eggs. It is similar in behaviour to other aerial insectivores, such as other swallows and the unrelated swifts. It is a fast flyer and feeds on insects, especially flies, while airborne.

Pallid swift

The pallid swift (Apus pallidus) is a small bird, superficially similar to a barn swallow or house martin. It is, however, completely unrelated to those passerine species, since the swifts are in the order Apodiformes. The resemblances between the groups are due to convergent evolution reflecting similar life styles.

Swifts have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. The genus name Apus is Latin for a swift, thought by the ancients to be a type of swallow with no feet (from Ancient Greek α, a, "without", and πούς, pous, "foot"), and pallidus is Latin for "pale". They never settle voluntarily on the ground. Swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks. They drink on the wing.

Red-chested swallow

The red-chested swallow (Hirundo lucida) is a small non-migratory passerine bird found in West Africa, the Congo Basin and Ethiopia. It has a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings.It was formerly considered a subspecies of the closely resembling barn swallow, however, the adult red-chested swallow differs in being slightly smaller than its migratory relative, in addition to having a narrower blue breast band and shorter tail streamers; juveniles are more comparable to barn swallow chicks.


The swallows, martins and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. The term Swallow is used colloquially in Europe as a synonym for the barn swallow. There are around 90 species of Hirundinidae, divided into 19 genera, with the greatest diversity found in Africa, which is also thought to be where they evolved as hole-nesters. They also occur on a number of oceanic islands. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory.

This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows, martins and saw-wings). Within the Old World, the name martin tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name swallow for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups. Within the New World, "martin" is reserved for members of the genus Progne. (These two systems are responsible for the sand martin being called "bank swallow" in the New World.)

Swallow tattoo

The swallow tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience. Of British origin in the early days of sailing, it was the image of a barn swallow, usually tattooed on the chest, hands or neck.

According to one legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had travelled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km); a sailor with two swallows had travelled 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km). Travelling these great distances was extremely difficult and dangerous in the early days of sailing, so one or more swallow tattoo denoted a very experienced and valuable sailor.

Another legend holds that since swallows return to the same location every year to mate and nest, the swallow will guarantee the sailor returns home safely. A sailor would have one swallow tattooed before setting out on a journey, and the second swallow tattooed at the end of their tour of duty, upon return to their home port.

It is also said that if the sailor drowns, the swallows will carry their soul to heaven.Today, the symbol of the swallow can mean many different things. It is considered a staple of the "British Traditional" and "Sailor Jerry Collins" style tattooing.

Some ex-Sailors of the British Royal Navy have a swallow tattoo on both wrists as a symbol of a successful voyage.

Utva Lasta

The Utva Lasta 95 is a light military trainer aircraft produced by Utva Aviation Industry. It is a tandem two-seater low-wing trainer with a metal airframe. The aircraft is capable of basic training functions including aerobatics, instrument and tactical flying, as well as basic training in use of weapons. The first prototype of Lasta 1 flew on 2 September 1985, while the first prototype of the current version, Lasta 3, flew on February 26, 2009. Lasta is the Serbian word for barn swallow.

Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)
In the arts

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