Belongs to: aerial birds

Compare with: swift

Swallow hirundo rustica

Also known as: barn swallow

BoCC Amber List

Best time to see: late Mar to mid Oct

Key facts

Skilful aerobat with long tail streamers

Habitat: open country not too far from water

Common summer visitors from Africa, but declining


Red face, blue-black upperparts, long angled wings; long tail streamers in adult; up to 22 cm

Fast acrobatic flight after flying insects; song is an almost continuous musical twittering 

Gregarious, gathering in large numbers to feed over wetlands and roosting in large numbers in reedbeds


Winters in Africa, arriving here end March or early April

Nest is a shallow saucer of mud lined with feathers, built in outbuildings on a shelf or on a projection from the wall

2–3 broods May to June, sometimes later; 4 or 5 white eggs with reddish spots

© Leslie Borg

© Bill Varney