Thursday, 7 February 2013

Barn Swallow - National Bird of Austria & Estonia.

A barn swallow is one of the best known species of the group of long-winged perching birds that reside in most parts of the world. Among all swallows, the barn swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed swallow in the world. Living particularly throughout North America, Asia, Africa and Europe, it is distinguished by its long forked tail. It is dark blue-black in color on the upper body, with a dark rusty throat. The rest of the body is pale rusty in color. A line of white spots can also be found across the outer end of the upper tail. A female barn swallow appears similar to its male counterpart, with main differences being shorter tail streamers, paler under parts and less glossy upper parts. 

The Barn Swallow is a bird of open country which normally uses man-made structures to breed and consequently has spread with human expansion. It builds a cup nest from mud pellets in barns or similar structures and feeds on insects caught in flight. This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by man; this acceptance was reinforced in the past by superstitions regarding the bird and its nest. There are frequent cultural references to the Barn Swallow in literary and religious works due to both its living in close proximity to humans and its annual migration. The Barn Swallow is the national bird of Austria and Estonia.

Interesting & Amazing Information On Barn Swallows
  • Barn swallows are found in a large number of habitats with open areas, such as agricultural areas, farmlands, cities, highways, marshes, lakeshores, near barns, outbuildings, bridges and culverts.
  • A barn swallow prefers to spend more time in the air, than any other land bird.
  • A barn swallow feeds only on bugs.
  • It is classified into six different subspecies that breed mainly across the Northern Hemisphere. Four of these species are migratory birds that fly to places in Southern Hemisphere like Central Argentina, Cape Province of South Africa and northern Australia in winter.
  • Female barn swallows prefer mating with males, who have a dark reddish chest color and longer and more symmetrical tails.
  • Since, it falls under the category of monogamous species, a male barn swallow pairs with a single female and guards it against other males, who might attempt to mate with its partner.
  • Barn swallows usually mate in the air.
  • While building a mud nest, both male and female barn swallows make up to 1000 trips collecting mud.
  • They build a cup-shaped nest made up of mud lined with grass and feathers. They are known to breed under a rock ledge or in the rafters or eaves of buildings.
  • They breed in the winter season in the temperate parts, such as the mountains of Thailand and in Central Argentina.
  • They are capable of feeding their young while they are in flight.
  • Barn swallows travel in groups with a speed of about 600 miles per day.
  • An unmated male barn swallow can kill the nestlings of a nesting pair. This is done to break up the pair and afford himself an opportunity to mate with the female.
  • The females lay 2 to 7 eggs at a time. In couple of weeks the eggs are incubated and in around 3 weeks’ time the young leave the nest.
  • According to legends, barn swallow stole fire from the gods to bring it to the human race. Gods became infuriated and attacked barn swallow with a firebrand and seared feathers from the middle of its tale and thus barn swallows have forked tails.
  • The Oldest barn swallow was found in North America, which was 8 years and a month old.
  • The Barn Swallow has a global range of 51.7 million sq. km (19.96 million sq. miles). Their estimated population is about 190 million. As per the IUCN Red List, their population is not fast declining and hence there are no threats of extinction.


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