Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
The barn swallow is about six inches in length and has a slate-blue head and wings. It has a rusty-orange throat and forehead and a pale orange chest and underside. It has a deeply forked tail. Males and females are similar, but the female's tail is a little less forked, and her underparts are a little paler.
In North America, the barn swallow breeds from Alaska east to Newfoundland, Canada and south to California and northern Florida. The barn swallow is a Neotropical migrant. It leaves its breeding range in the fall and travels south to winter in Mexico, Central America, and South America. It travels by day, eating as it flies. It travels as many as 600 miles a day. Barn swallows migrate in large groups.
The barn swallow also breeds in northern Europe, northeastern Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. European and Asian barn swallows winter in southern Asia, Indonesia, and Micronesia.
The barn swallow is found in farmlands, suburbs, marshes, and lakeshores.
The barn swallow is an insectivore. It only eats insects. Grasshoppers, beetles, moths, and other flying insects make up a large part of its diet. The barn swallow zig-zags through the air in pursuit of its prey. It even gets its water while flying! It skims over the surface of a body of water and scoops up water in its bill.
Barn swallows form breeding pairs in the spring, when they return to their breeding grounds. The male tries to attract a female by spreading his wings and singing. Barn swallows often mate in the air. Both parents build the nest.
The barn swallow uses a variety of vocalizations to communicate. It has an alarm call to warn of predators and a mating call used to attract a mate.
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Chris Parrish