Swallow

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Did you know: Swallows can travel thousands of miles each year, migrating from the UK to Africa and back!

What Do Swallows Look Like? (how to identify them)

Swallows are distinguished by their sleek, glossy-blue backs and striking red throats. With pale underbellies and distinctive long tail streamers, these agile flyers are a marvel in the skies.

Common across the Northern Hemisphere, they’re known for their impressive migration south during winter. Swallow populations in the UK have seen varied trends over the past few decades, reflecting their adaptable yet vulnerable nature.

Differences Between Male And Female Swallows

Male and female swallows can be told apart by subtle differences. 

Generally, males boast slightly longer tail streamers, adding to their aerial elegance. Both sexes share the same vibrant colours, but these nuances in tail length are their main distinguishing feature.

What Do Swallows Eat?

Swallows are aerial hunters, gracefully catching small invertebrates mid-flight. Their diet mainly consists of a variety of flying insects, which they skillfully capture with their agile flying techniques.

Where Do Swallows Live? (inc. migration info)

Swallows are truly cosmopolitan, breeding across the Northern Hemisphere and migrating to warmer regions in winter. In the UK, they’re commonly found in open and semi-open areas, including farmlands and wetlands. 

These birds are noted for their long-distance migration, showcasing remarkable endurance and navigational skills.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Swallows)

Swallows communicate through a range of calls and songs. Their vocalisations vary from excited twitters to more complex melodies during courtship or as alarm signals. Listen for their distinctive chattering in flight or near their nests.

Fun Swallow Facts (kid friendly)

  • Swallows can fly at incredibly high speeds, especially when chasing insects.
  • They build their nests out of mud, which they skillfully shape into a secure home.
  • A swallow’s tail is not just for show; it helps them change direction quickly in flight.
  • Baby swallows are born without feathers and rely on their parents for warmth.
  • Despite their small size, swallows travel thousands of miles each year during migration.

Swallow Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Swallow

Diet: A range of small invertebrates which are caught on the wing.
Bird Family: Swallows and martins
Length: 17-19cm
Wingspan: 32-35cm
Weight: 16-25g
Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica

The Swallow Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October