Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Passeriformes / Hirundindae / Hirundo / Species
Hirundo rustica - Barn swallow (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Swallow.
  • Common swallow.
  • House swallow.
  • Rustic swallow.
  • Boerenzwaluw (Holland).
  • Hirondelle rustique (France).
  • Rauchschwalbe (Germany).
  • Rondine (Italy).
  • Golondrina común (Spain).
  • Ladusvala (Sweden).
  • Hirundo rustica rustica - Eurasian swallow (B89)
  • Hirundo rustica erythrogaster - Barn swallow (B89)

(B19, B162)

Names for newly-hatched

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Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Gordon McLeod

Species Editor

Debra Bourne

Major References

B19, B89, B162, B163, B164, B165, B166 

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Swallows, Swifts, Nightjars.

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

--
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Head to tail:
  • General: 17-19cm (B162); 17-21cm (B164); 16cm ( B165); 16-22cm / 6.5-8.5 ins. (B166)

Tail-length:

  • General: 2-7cm (B162); 3-6.5cm. (B164)

Wingspan:

  • General: 32-34.5cm. (B162)

Winglength:

  • General: --
  • Male: 120-129mm. (B162)
  • Female: 118-125mm. (B162)
Adult weight General 16-22g. (B162)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Short and thin; black. (B162, B164, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Eyes Male Black. (B162, B164, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Short and thin; black. (B162, B164)
Eyes (Iris) Black. (B162, B164)

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Legs

Adult Male Short; grey. (B162, B164)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Short; grey. (B162, B164)

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Upperparts: Glossy blue-black.
  • Head: Crown glossy blue-black; face red; eyemask black.
  • Underparts: Throat red; collar glossy blue-black; breast  pale creamy-pink; belly pale creamy-pink.
  • Wings: Upper glossy blue-black; underside (coverts) pale creamy-pink; underside (flight feathers) dark grey.
  • Tail: Long with forked streamers; upper glossy blue-black; under glossy blue-black with oval white patches.

(B162, B164, B166)

Variations (If present) Female:
  • Tail: Shorter with broader forked streamers.

(B164)

Juvenile
  • Head: Face buffy-red.
  • Tail: Shorter with forked streamers.

(B164)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Altricial, helpless, downy, eyes closed. (B163, B166)

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year
  • May to June. (B166)
No. of Clutches 2-3. (B163, B166)

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Nest placement and structure

  • Solitary or in small colonies.
  • In buildings, rarely in caves.
  • Shallow, open cup of mud and vegetation lined with feathers.
  • 20cm wide and 10cm deep.
  • Stuck to wall or structural beam, 2-5m above ground.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-5. (B162, B163, B166)
Range 2-7. (B162, B163)
Egg description: Smooth and glossy, oval, 20mm long; white with red-brown spots.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Incubation

11-19 days (B162, B163); 14-16 days. (B166)

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Hatching

Synchronous. (B163)

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Fledging

18-23 days (B162, B163); 17-24 days. (B166)

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Chase and catch prey in flight. When ground or vegetation-based prey are highly abundant, may adopt non-aerial feeding tactics. (B162, B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by parents. (B163)

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By both birds. (B163)
Incubation By both birds, though mainly by female. (B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by both birds. (B163)
Juveniles

Remain dependant on parents for several weeks. Young of first brood may be co-operative breeders, helping to rear the second brood. (B163)

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific
  • Highly gregarious outside breeding season.

(B162)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous pair bond, usually seasonal, though may be lifelong.
  • Some males are polygynous, mating with more than one female in the colony.
  • Breeding colonies rarely larger than 4 pairs.

(B162, B163)

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

  • Aerial.
  • Takes off and lands on buildings.

(B166)

Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

  • Flying insects.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Newly-hatched

Insects (B163)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal
  • Fluctuating population, mainly stable throughout western Palearctic, Asia, south-east Asia and India, North America
  • Britain: Common and widespread summer visitor.

Migration:

  • European and Asian populations overwinter in Africa, south of the Sahara desert.
  • Some winter residents in Mediterranean area.

(B162, B163, B166)

  • Holarctic: Generally winters in the southern hemisphere (Africa, northern Australia, South America) (B89)
Occasional and Accidental Spitsbergen, Bear Island, Jan Mayen, Iceland (annually), Azores, Madeira. (B162)
Introduced

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Habitat

  • Farmlands and pastures.
  • Rural and urban gardens.
  • Freshwater marshland and moors.
  • Avoids dense woodland.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Slight variation across west Palearctic.
  • Hirundo rustica transitiva; (Lebanon, southern Syria, Israel); rusty-pink or rufous-buff underparts; smaller.

(B162)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Currently declining, though subject to wide fluctuations. Widespread on a global basis. (B162, B163)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

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Trade

--

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