Plate 14: Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Nests & Eggs: Barn Swallow

Sweet voice and glistening in color, you’ll find them swooping over barnyards and fields in search of insects.

This friendly bird discovered long ago that barns or sheds made excellent cover for its adobe nest and now you often will find from one to several of these mud structures neatly plastered on the beams of buildings. This is a happy arrangement for both the tenant and landlord, for the swallow more than pays the rent on the space used, not in cash but in the thousands of insects which make up his food. The swallow gets whatever protection is offered.

A Barn Swallow is identified easily. No other swallow has the steel-blue back, the brown spot above the bill with brown throat and belly nor the deeply forked tail showing white beneath. Another good field mark is the way he flies with wings bent so the long pointed primaries point back. He is a swift but erratic flier and it is a pleasure to watch him as he darts across a field, pond or pasture, searching for flying insects.

His song is a series of twittering notes, rather musical and when once learned will be easily remembered. Many of the notes have a liquid or bubbling sound which is distinctive.

Two broods of 4 or 5 young usually are raised during the summer. Fall brings huge but loose flocks, headed south and feeding as they go, all headed for South America for the winter.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol. I
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the Barn Swallow story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate XIV: Barn Swallow, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Barn Swallow at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The Barn Swallow is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER XVI. A Robber in the Old Orchard.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Barn Swallow Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Forktail the Barn Swallow
Corresponding print from The Burgess Bird Book.

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book

Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book
Dover Nature Coloring Book based on Fifty Birds of Town and City by Bob Hines. Includes the barn swallow.

Barn Swallow Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:


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