Barn Swallows, Protected From The Rain

Barn Swallow photo by JJ Cadiz

Barn Swallow photo by JJ Cadiz

Barn Swallows will sometimes go to ponds and bird baths to drink and even bathe, splashing water onto their wing, diving and dipping down into the water to take mouthfuls of water or touch the surface of their stomach against the surface of the water for a quick rinse.

Identifying Them:

Barn Swallows have light-orange stomaches with blue wings which may not be visible when seen flying. Sometimes the reason you don’t see so much blue on their wings is because males have bolder blues and oranges on them, but females have more greyish-blue wings. Barn Swallows are usually about 5-7 inches tall with a wingspan of 11-12 inches long. There are lots of barn swallows in North America and are the one type of swallow with the highest population in all the world.

Habitat:

Barn Swallows live in open areas in towns and cities. They love Ball-fields, neighborhoods, apartment areas, large buildings and other dwelling areas. You may also find them in open areas containing a lot of water, places such as beaches, lakes, ponds, coastal waters, and other bodies of water with sea levels up to 10,000 feet, avoiding deserts and dense hot areas.

Behavior:

These swallows have powerful wing beats and pull the tips of their wings back within each flap. Barn Swallows collect and snatch insects in flight exclusively. You can watch Barn Swallows fly about at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch7vfYSkoIs
“The flight of this species is not less interesting than any other of its characteristics.
It probably surpasses in speed that of any other species of the feathered tribes, excepting the Humming-bird. 
In fact, barn swallows are strong and hardy birds that to fly to Argentina for the winter.” ~John James Audubon

Barn Swallows will sometimes go to ponds and bird baths to drink and even bathe, splashing water onto their wing, diving and dipping down into the water to take mouthfuls of water or touch the surface of their stomach against the surface of the water for a quick rinse.
Males defend their nests by grabbing the feet of other male birds and will even tumble to the ground because of it. Barn Swallows and other swallows may join forces to mob hawks, grackles, gulls and other predators.

Nesting and Nestlings:

Barn Swallows nest near dwelling areas and towns. Car port eaves are perfect nesting structures for Barn Swallows where they can be protected from many predators and not to mention the rain. Cars going in and out don’t scare them away but predators may not try to feed from their nest because of the cars. Barn Swallows also will nest in barn house ceiling eaves which provides perfect structures for their small but delicate nests.

Their nests are almost always made of twigs, bark chips and mud. They line the interior of their nests with feathers to keep them and their nestlings warm, or will sometimes just place a white downy feather anywhere in the nest. I live in an apartment which has a car port that a Barn Swallow nests in. The nest is just like most other nests, which look almost like a bee hive and is made from mud mixed with grass stems to make pellets. The nest is about the size of the barn swallow and it is hard to imagine it sharing its small nest with a mate or their nestlings. The approximate nest size is about 3 inches across and 2 inches deep.

The male barn swallow returns to the breeding grounds before the females and selects a nest site, which is followed by an advertisement to females which is a scene of the male circling in flight and a beautiful song. The success of the male winning over the female is mostly decided by the length of his tail streamers, (the longer the tail streamers the more attractive she sees him to be).
Females lay about 4-5 brown-red eggs which are incubated for 12-19 days. Female Barn Swallows incubate their eggs for 75% of the time while males incubate their eggs for the other 25% of the time. Once their eggs hatch, the nestlings stay with them for about 18-23 days, being fed and taken care of by both parents. After that, they become fledglings and leave the nest but are still taken care of for about a week.

Barn Swallow nesting  View Credits at the bottom of the page.

Barn Swallow nesting
View Credits at the bottom of the page.

Barn Swallow Photographed by (Wiki name) Alvegaspar

Barn Swallow Photographed by (Wiki name) Alvegaspar

Diet:

Barn Swallows eat only insects. They fly above open areas like marshes, lakes, rivers and fields to catch flies and many other flying insects that they love in their diet including beetles, wasps, bees, butterflies, moths and dragonflies.

Attracting Them To Your feeder:

Barn Swallows are very tame birds and are easily attracted to backyards. These birds won’t feed from your feeder if you use sunflower seeds and or other seeds, for they do not eat seeds like most feeder-eaters. If you use insecticides or pesticides around your yard, barn swallows may not like to hang out in your yard because insects are Barn Swallows’ main diet. A few of them visit fine gravel patches for grit to help them digest their food, and may take crushed eggshells from platform feeders also for that purpous.

The photo of the Barn Swallow in their nest was taken by http://supersonicman.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/sierra-birds/
The featured image was photographed by Alan and Elaine Wilson.
You can see amazing birds and photography of Barn Swallows at http://ridgefieldbirds.com/TheRefuge/Birds/ridgefield_NWR_barn_swallow.html

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About faithelise

I love learning about species of birds and want to be an Ornathologist. Writing about birds is my passion and I love every part of it!
This entry was posted in Backyard Birds, Bird Watching, nonfiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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