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Aves bird of the week - Barn Swallows – Hirundo rustica

Barn SwallowsHirundo rustica- is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. Adults migrate long distances to their wintering grounds. An abundant summer visitor to Southern Africa. Adults may live to10 years. Its preferred habitat is open country with low vegetation, such as pasture, meadows and farmland, preferably with nearby water.


The adult male has steel blue upperparts and a rufous forehead, chin and throat, which are separated from the off-white underparts by a broad dark blue breast band. The outer tail feathers are elongated; giving the distinctive deeply forked "swallow tail." There is a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail.

The female is similar in appearance to the male, but the tail streamers are shorter, the blue of the upperparts and breast band is less glossy and the underparts paler. The juvenile is browner and has a paler rufous face and whiter underparts. It also lacks the long tail streamers of the adult.


The song of the Barn Swallow is a cheerful warble, often ending with su-seer with the second note higher than the first but falling in pitch. Calls include witt or witt-witt and a loud splee-plink when excited.


Mainly insects caught on the wing. A diverse range of insects including Mosquitoes, flies and moths. These swallows also drink on the wing, dipping beaks into the water in flight.


The male Barn Swallow returns to the breeding grounds before the females and selects a nest site, which is then advertised to females with a circling flight and song. The breeding success of the male is related to the length of the tail streamers, with longer streamers being more attractive to the female.

Females build cup shaped nests out of mud and grasses usually against a hard vertical surface, such as eaves of buildings or under bridges.  They often choose the same nest site year after year.  Females lay three to five eggs that they incubate for two to three weeks.  After hatching, the chicks will remain in the nest for another three to four weeks before fledging. Adults will rear two broods each year, depending on the weather and supply of insects. 


This beautiful swallow can be seen on the following Aves Birding Tours / Safaris/Adventures: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari.



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