Barn Swallow

Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
Species: rustica

La. passer  sparrow, small bird
La. forma
  form, kind, species
La. hirundo
  a swallow
La. rusticus
  rural, country


Barn Swallows, Allan Brooks, Birds of Western Canada, P.A.Taverner, 1926

Allan Brooks

Six to seven inches long. Dark steel blue almost black head, back, long thin speedy wings and deeply forked tail with white spots.  Rich chestnut forehead, throat and breast. Light brown underside. Short wide beak.

USGS Barn Swallow Map

Almost always inhabits buildings and structures throughout most of North America and parts of Greenland. Winters in Central and South America.

Builds nests of mud pellets reinforced with grass or straw and lined with fine grass and feathers attached to ceiling rafters or walls near a ceiling almost always in open barns or other out buildings, country churches, long covered bridges of New England, beneath piers or open boat houses, sometimes under eaves.

Often returns to old nesting places.

Lays three to six speckled white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and fledglings leave the nest in about another three. Raise two broods. Adolescents from the first brood remain in the family and help feed the next brood of the same season.

Barn Swallows, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

They dive at intruders in their barn yards, snap their beaks and pull away just before making contact, although they adjust to familiar neighbors.
Barn Swallows
They feed exclusively on insects caught in graceful aerobatics during nesting season and also berries in late summer when they gather in large flocks before migrating.

The Barn Swallow platform has a narrow 2" by 5 3/4" base, approximately a 6" ceiling, an open front and partially open sides.

Mount this platform high inside an open barn or shed or on the side of a garage, or porch under open shelter or an eave. Do not mount in a tree. Make sure objects that cats and squirrels can climb do not provide access to the nest.

Dimensions of this platform are recommended for Barn and Cliff Swallows by several sources and efforts to attract them with platforms or modified structures have worked.

It seems that if Barn Swallows are going to build a nest in a barn, they can do so just fine without help. Insects and water are probably greater factors. Then again, who knows? If they nest in an artificial ledge, then that probably answers the question.

Most often they attach their nest to the side of a ceiling rafter or wall under an eave, not on a shelf. A roof (where none exists) with or without a shelf may attract these swallows.


Barn Swallows, R. Bruce Horsfall, A Year with the Birds, Alice E. Ball, 1916

Bruce Horsfall


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