Bird Families

Purple Wood Swallow, 20 cm long


Anyone could see a swallow flying rapidly near his house or by the river. Many do not know what kind of bird is a swallow: migratory, non-migratory, predatory, or insectivorous. And in general, which bird is a swallow, and which swift? This is what we will tell you about today.

Thread-tailed swallow (Hirundo smithii)

Its habitat depends on the species of swallows. As many as 79 species of the swallow family are known on Earth, of which 19 are genera. Swallows live in almost all regions of the globe, except for the coldest northern ones. Especially many of them live in hot countries. For example, only in Angola, scientists have discovered 15 species.

Purple Wood Swallow

Purple Wood Swallow, 20 cm long. It is the largest swallow in North America. The male has a glossy black-blue plumage, the female's plumage is black-blue above, the bottom is gray. The plumage of the chicks is gray-brown above, and whitish below it changes to purple in winter. The tail is forked.

1. Habitat

Breeds from southern Canada to Mexico, overwinters in the Amazon. It inhabits both urban and agricultural areas, as well as light and rainy forests.

On the territory of Russia, the purple wood swallow was recorded in Chukotka.

2. Reproduction

The purple wood swallow nests in the East almost exclusively in birdhouses, in other areas it uses abandoned starling hollows, hollows in cacti and trees, and even cliffs for nesting. The male and female together build a bowl-shaped nest from liquid mud and plant material. The female incubates up to 7 eggs alone for two weeks. The male again helps in feeding the chicks. Chicks become independent in 4 weeks and their parents take care of their food for 2 more weeks.

3. Nutrition

It feeds on flying insects and even drinks on the fly, flying low over the surface of the water with an open beak. According to a number of evidences, it can catch insects on the ground.

How swallows differ from swifts

Due to their fast, rapid flight and similar external outlines, swallows are often confused with swifts.

Scissor-swallowed African swallow (Psalidoprocne obscura) has an atypically gloomy coloration

Swallows are small birds, weighing only 10–60 g. The body length is from 9 to 23 cm. The graceful body with narrow long wings and the same long tail in the form of a fork at the end are the distinctive features of this bird.

The color of the plumage in males and females is approximately the same - in most species, the back is with a blue tint, the abdomen is red-brown. Red spots may appear on other parts of the body.

The spotted swallow (Cecropis abyssinica) also lives in Africa

Thanks to the wide opening of the mouth, these birds feed directly on the fly.

What do swallows eat?

Swallows spend most of their lives in flight. Their small, short legs do not allow them to move freely on the ground.

Urban swallow, or funnel (Delichon urbicum) collects material for the nest

Therefore, they find food for themselves right in the air. Opening their beak wide, they catch numerous insects in flight: midges, mosquitoes, bugs, small flies.

On sunny days, these insects rise high, and therefore swallows fly at a considerable distance from the ground.

Barn swallow (Riparia riparia) colony on a cliff

But before the rain, due to high humidity, insects cannot fly high, and swallows fly low, hunting for their prey. Here they come across butterflies, dragonflies and flying beetles. The folk omen about the approach of rain is based on this peculiarity of the swallows' feeding.

In this company of white-fronted swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), one can see the individual skill of each builder: someone made a nest with a narrow entrance, someone with a wide one, and someone made an open basket.

Do swallows fly away to warm lands?

In hot countries, where food in the form of insects is available all year round, swallows live in the same place. Northern swallows are migratory birds.

Returning to their native places in the spring, they begin to build nests on coastal cliffs, rocks, under the roofs of houses, very rarely in trees.

American Arboreal Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) huddle together to keep warm during a sudden snowfall in Canada

To build a nest, clay is carried in the beak, holding it together with saliva. Inside the nest is covered with down, small feathers and soft grass. Lay 3 to 7 eggs.

The most common types of swallows

Along the steep banks of the rivers he digs his nests shore swallow... Choosing soft soil, they dig out a horizontal course, which ends in a cave. It is in it that these birds breed their chicks.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) in flight

They live in entire colonies, there can be up to a thousand pairs in them. In a huge flock they rush over the water, scooping it up with their beak, or catching insects.

Very similar in size and plumage urban and barn swallows... Both have a pure white abdomen and a gray-blue tint of the back and wings. The barn swallow has a brownish forehead and neck. They differ in that the barn swallow settles mainly under the roofs of wooden houses, and the urban swallow - under the roofs of stone buildings, on cornices, under balconies.

Purple Wood Swallow Chicks (Progne subis)

Rocky swallow also likes to settle under roofs, cornices and bridges. All these places are simply strewn with nests, from which lumps of clay, droppings, and plant rags constantly fall. All this heavily pollutes the walls of buildings, therefore, protective nets are thrown over many architectural monuments.

Red-lumbar swallow, like the rocky one, has a gray-brown abdomen, and bright red spots on the head and neck. Basically, the way of life, the places where nests are built are the same as those of other swallows that settle near human dwellings.

The purple-green American swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) is one of the most vividly colored species

The largest swallow in North America, 20 cm long - purple forest... It got its name due to the fact that the color of the plumage of the chicks becomes purple by winter.Builds nests in birdhouses, old hollows and cliffs.

Do you want to know how much bigger a swallow is the largest butterfly? Then you are here!

Swallows nest in a rustic barn.

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