Barn Swallow Species Dossier

by Carl Strang

Swallow, Barn

A barn swallow at its nest

A barn swallow at its nest

These swallows build supported mud nests in the shelter of barn structures or bridges. They catch insects during continuous, usually fairly low flight. I have seen similar nests in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois. The vocalizations are chattery relative to those of tree swallows.

26MY86. I compared barn and tree swallows foraging over a meadow near McKee Marsh. Both species flew low over the grass tops. Barn swallows had a somewhat smoother, more fluid flight path.

Summer 1986. Barn swallows nested on buildings of the Basin lodge complex at Big Bend National Park. They were very tame and approachable. One started a beautiful, complex song just before 5am, 1.5 hours before sunrise, and some were out flying in the dark that early. That song seemed to develop at first slow and more measured with simpler phrases and longer intervals between them. Gradually it accelerated and increased in complexity.

Migrating barn swallows take a break

Migrating barn swallows take a break

Mid-SE86. Barn swallows migrated in small groups (1-4), sometimes in the company of other swallows or swifts. Mostly they were 100 or more feet above the ground.

20JL99. More than a dozen barn swallows have appeared over the Willowbrook Nature Trail area, flying low; cloudy with occasional showers.

24AP00. First barn swallow of the season was a single individual flying over Willowbrook.

23AU09. They seem to be migrating, but there still are nestlings at Springbrook Prairie.


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