May 23, 2016

Dunes in Flight: the Barn Swallow

Barn swallows banner

Common name: Barn swallow

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Family: Hirundinidae

The barn swallow is the most abundant swallow on the planet. Easily distinguishable from other North American swallows by their deeply forked tail and deep coloration, the barn swallow is both beautiful to look at and entertaining.

barn swallow 3Their back, wings, and tail are a deep, metallic blue while their chest and belly are rust colored. They have compact bodies with tapered wings and long outer tail feathers. Barn swallows hunt flying insects, often over open waters. They feed while flying and are capable of performing impressive twists, turns, and sudden dives. They also drink water and bathe while flying as well, dipping their head in the water for a drink or skimming along the surface. Their short wing span and tapered wing shape are better suited for quick maneuverability than for soaring or gliding.

Barn swallows construct their nests using mud and grass stems. Their nests are cup shaped and are often constructed under eaves, rafters, and the undersides of other man-made structures. Colonies of barn swallows have been observed mobbing winged predators such as hawks that come too close to nesting sites.

Have you spotted this interested species during your time exploring the dunes? Let us know in the comment section below, and don't forget to share any photos you have with us on our FaceBook page!

Photography Credit: Majorie Lane


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