Barn Swallow

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Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Status: threatened

If you own a barn, hopefully you have some of these little guys building nests in the rafters. Their preferred nesting sites are man-made structures so look for their mud nests in rafters or under eaves of structures like barns, sheds and bridges. They will be seen feeding over open habitats in close proximity to marshes, ponds and waterways since their favorite food is aquatic insects. Barn Swallows can be found all throughout North America in the spring and summer and make the long flight to Central and South America each fall to over winter. They can easily be recognized by their long forked tail, distinguishing them from other species of swallows, along with their steel blue head and cinnamon throat. The beautiful colors of the Barn Swallow didn’t escape the attention of the fashion industry and in the 1800’s they were hunted for the use of their feathers, as well as the whole bird, in women’s millinery (hat making). Thanks to an article written in Field and Stream Magazine by the naturalist George Bird Grinell, the exploitation of birds and the devastating effects it was having on populations was brought to the attention of the American public. Enlightened women across North America changed the face of women’s fashion and in the process the National Audubon Society was formed. Today their numbers are considered stable in most areas. Their preference for man-made structures has given them a leg up with no shortage of nesting sites. So if you see one of these guys scoping out your barn or shed as a nesting site, invite them in. You will surely be rewarded with a pretty song in thanks.

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