The barn swallow

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A barn swallow perches on a steel chain at Wutong Mountain Park in Luohu District on July 6, 2021.

It's springtime, the perfect season for newborns to hatch. The speedy barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) certainly knows it.


Approximately 18cm in length, this small bird is ubiquitous and abundant in the entire planet, delighting us with their beauty in the Americas, Africa, Europe, Australia and of course, Asia.


This fantastic bird possesses an amazing bright blue plumage on the back of its body, and starting from its forehead and filling its throat, a fabulous reddish plumage. Its wings are black and the under parts are of a delightful light yellowish color. During the course of their life, barn swallows may show different coloration patterns.


A barn swallow stands ready to fly at the seaside in Dapeng on March 12, 2022.

One of the most beautiful physical characteristics of the barn swallows aside from its colors, is their amazing forked tail, a telltale characteristic that differentiates males from females. Females often have shorter tails.


Barn swallows spend a lot of time flying, at incredible speeds. They perform really fast turns, making it difficult to follow and almost impossible to photograph them. However, when they find a spot to rest, eat or drink water, they tend to visit it repeatedly for a relatively long period.


A barn swallow perches on a stone at Wutong Mountain Park in Luohu District on April 23, 2022.

It is also known that barn swallows build their nests near human settlements and they are not afraid of being close to people when nesting. It is nice to see how local residents have learned to live in harmony with the swallows as their neighbors.


Barn swallows can lay up to six eggs per clutch and the female alone is in charge of incubation for a period of around two weeks. The dads will give a hand feeding the newborns.


Although barn swallows have adapted well to human behavior and settlements, human activities can still be their biggest threat. While living near human settlements, the bird can suffer from such common hazards as pesticides, trash, consumption of small plastic elements or harmful materials, or crashing over windows and walls. It's important to reduce these threats as much as possible, so that we can enjoy their presence for years to come.