Barn Swallow

Silhouette SwallowsSwallows

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Hirundinidae
Basic Description

Glistening cobalt blue above and tawny below, Barn Swallows dart gracefully over fields, barnyards, and open water in search of flying insect prey. Look for the long, deeply forked tail that streams out behind this agile flyer and sets it apart from all other North American swallows. Barn Swallows often cruise low, flying just a few inches above the ground or water. True to their name, they build their cup-shaped mud nests almost exclusively on human-made structures.

More ID Info
image of range map for Barn SwallowRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Look for Barn Swallows feeding above meadows, fields, and farmyards and over water, or perched on wires near feeding areas and nesting sites. 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. You can find Barn Swallows across most of North America.

Other Names
  • Golondrina Común (Spanish)
  • Hirondelle rustique (French)

Backyard Tips

Barn Swallows don't come to seed or suet feeders, but they may take ground-up eggshells or oyster shells placed on an open platform feeder. If you have a suitable outbuilding, leaving a door or window open can encourage Barn Swallows to build a nest inside. Providing a source of mud will also help with nest building. Barn Swallows may use artificial nest cups attached to an appropriate surface.

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

  • Cool Facts