The graceful swallow bird is regarded as the herald of summer. Learn about the Swallow.
The graceful swallow is regarded as the herald of summer. This bird has been the topic of poetry for centuries, with a long slender body, deeply forked tail and long wings that makes its flight poetry in motion. The wing movements are elegant and this bird will change direction without any apparent break in its rhythm or change of speed. Swallows often glide low over ponds, picking insects and sipping water. They are gregarious birds arriving in March or early April after a journey of ten to twelve thousand miles and will leave again sometime between September and October.
Found in open country or woodland edge the swallow is usually near water. These popular garden visitors will frequently occupy any available nest box. They are a migratory species that flocks together in hugh numbers before moving south for the winter. These birds often nest in loose colonies. The forestry practice of removing standing dead trees has reduced the availability of their natural nest sites. The juvenile birds are marked similarly to the adults but have grayish brown feathers on the upper body. They are often seen as attendants at other birds nests but do not serve as helpers since the are usually there attempting to steal food from the nestlings and parents. The nestlings of the Swallow are brooded by the female for 5 days. Females often compete with wrens, bluebirds, sparrows and starlings for nest cavities. Their nest consists of grass that is lined with feathers.
The tree swallow has a hint of a breast bar which can cause confusion with the bank swallow. While the underside of most swallows are white the Tree Swallow is entirely blue green on the outer side. The Violet Green Swallow is covered with violet green feathers on the outside. They have white areas that extends over the eye and outer rump and are only found on the west coast.
The barn swallow is recognized by it's long forked tail and red face. This bird has blue and black outer feathers with a buff colored feathers on the underside. They have blue bands at the throat and blue cheeks that boarder their red faces. The tail feathers will have white spots in the patches both above and below. This bird is an acrobatic flier, catching insects while quickly flying at low levels through the air. Barn Swallows are known to frequently nest inside farm buildings. They are a summer visitor and are often seen preforming pre-roosting aerial displays before lighting on utility wires for communal roost.