The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. In Anglophone Europe it is just called the swallow; in Northern Europe it is the only common species called a “swallow” rather than a “martin”. The barn swallow is the national bird of Austria and Estonia. It has steel blue upperparts and a rufous forehead, chin and throat, which are separated from the off-white underparts by a broad dark blue breast band. The outer tail feathers are elongated, giving the distinctive deeply forked “swallow tail”. There is a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail. The female is similar in appearance to the male, but the tail streamers are shorter, the blue of the uppersparts and breast band is less glossy, and the underparts paler. The juvenile is browner and has a paler rufous face and whiter under parts. It also lacks the long tail streamers of the adult.The preferred habitat of the barn swallow is open country with low vegetation, such as pasture, meadows and farmland, preferably with nearby water. This swallow avoids heavily wooded or precipitous areas and densely built-up locations. The barn swallow is an attractive bird that feeds on flying insects and has therefore been tolerated by humans when it shares their buildings for nesting. As one of the earlier migrants, this conspicuous species is also seen as an early sign of summer’s approach. During the breeding season keep an eye on mud puddles, as Barn Swallows come to the ground to pick up mud and grass for nesting materials. Their mud nests are often tucked under the eaves of barns and stables, on structures near playing fields, or under bridges.
Nest Box Location – Put your nesting shelf up on a post, tree or under the eaves of your house. Also great for providing a nesting spot when birds decide to nest in an inconvenient place—like on your air conditioner or porch.
Birds That Nest In This Birdhouse – Some birds such as robins, phoebes, barn swallows, wrens and doves prefer building their nests on a nesting shelf—they won’t use a traditional, enclosed birdhouse. And these birds are great to have in your yard because they eat so many bugs.