Barn Swallow

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Common Name: Barn Swallow

Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica

Size: 6.75 inches (15-19 cm)

Habitat: North and South America. Summer Range: Breeds from southern Alaska through Canada, throughout the United States, except for the peninsula of Florida, where it is a local breeder, and parts of desert Southwest. Southward into central Mexico. Also throughout Eurasia and northern Africa. Small breeding colony in Argentina. Winter Range: Southern Mexico through Central America and throughout lowland South America.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 190,000,000 mature individuals. The Barn Swallow has benefited greatly from human activity. Artificial structures have allowed it to move into new areas and nest in higher densities than ever before. As a result, populations are much greater than they were before European settlement of North America.

Diet: Mosquitoes and other flying insects.

Breeding: An open cup of mud and grass. Lined with fine grass stems, hair, and feathers. Nest is fastened to a vertical wall under an overhang or placed on a ledge. 3-7 nests are laid.

Cool Facts: The Barn Swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed swallow species in the world. It breeds throughout the northern hemisphere and winters in much of the southern hemisphere. The Eurasian species has been recorded in Western Alaska and several times as south as Washington state.

The long tail of a Barn Swallow may indicate the quality of the individual bird. Females prefer to mate with males that have the longest and most symmetrical tails.

An unmated male Barn Swallow may kill the nestlings of a nesting pair. His actions often succeed in breaking up the pair and afford him the opportunity to mate with the female.

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