Swallow Bird: Identification, Behaviour and Feeding Tips

Swallow Bird: Identification, Behaviour and Feeding Tips

The Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is part of the group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding.

They are easily recognised with their slender bodies, long pointed wings and forked tails. Their plumage is a glossy dark blue above and the under parts are pale. They are extremely agile in flight and spend most of their time on the wing. The long tail feathers give Swallows exceptional manoeuvrability, and they can often be seen circling gracefully overhead or swooping low over water and ground.

Their call is a simple 'tswit, tswit, tswit' or 'weet-a-weet' and the song is a prolonged sweet twittering, that almost sounds like a sparrow.

The Swallow Bird

Swallows must be amongst the most popular of birds and can be seen between March- October and then they migrate to a warmer climate for the winter. They breed here in the UK in open habitats and both adults build a nest from mud and plant fibres against a beam or shelf in a building or a ledge of a cliff. Existing nests are often reused and refurbished. They are commonly seen on farmland and can also be found in both upland and lowland habitats where there are plenty of insects.

Over the last 3 decades the numbers have fluctuated in the UK, this could be to climate change and reduced nesting sites which puts them on the amber list of species of conservation concern. As aforementioned, swallows are aerial feeders – which means we can’t provide supplementary bird food for them. We can, however, do things to encourage a healthy environment for invertebrates, such as constructing a pond in the garden. The insects will be drawn to the water and the swallows may soon be seen swooping across the pond for an aerial feast.


Written by Tina Jakes



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