Fun Swallow Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Oct 20, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Natalie Rayworth
Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla
Swallow facts for kids to learn about this bird.

Swallow (Hirundo rustica), also known as martins, saw-wings, or hirundinidae, are a family of songbirds. They are found on all continents, even Antarctica.

They are highly adept at feeding mid-air and are known for their distinctive appearance. There are 90 species of hirundinidae divided into 19 genera, many of which are found in Africa.

The species found in Europe and North America are long distance migratory birds, whereas the West and South African ones are non-migratory birds.

Their slender streamlined body with long pointed wings allows them to manoeuvre easily and endure long-distance flying and frequent periods of gliding. Various sub-species of swallow (Hirundo rustica) are named after swallow habitats or appearance such as bank swallow, barn swallow, African swallow, violet green swallow, sea swallow, northern rough winged swallow and several others.

Swallows possess two foveae in each eye giving them sharp frontal and lateral vision to help track prey. They have long eyes which have almost the same length and width. Their eyes are similar to a raptor’s eye.

Swallows have short bills, but strong jaws and a wide gape. The male barn swallows have longer tails than the females which they find attractive while selecting a mate.

Barn swallows are the most widespread in the world. The barn swallow has blue underparts and a deeply forked tail. Swallows are excellent fliers and use their flying skills to attract mates and feed themselves.

After reading these swallow bird facts, do read our other articles on swallow-tailed kite and robin as well.

Swallow Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a swallow?

Swallow is a kind of songbird found all over the world. They spend much of their time in flight.  They are known to use a hole in a tree as a nest.

What class of animal does a swallow belong to?

Swallow belongs to the class of aves, as they lay eggs. They are nesting birds that make their nests in holes that have been tunneled into vertical dirt banks.

How many swallows are there in the world?

The barn swallow has a range that expands over 32,312,500 square miles and a population of 190 million. The barn swallow is the most widespread species of swallow. The population of other species of swallow may be difficult to gauge as they are now spread over a wide area.

Where does a swallow live?

Swallows are found throughout the world. Different species of swallows are found in different parts of the world. Pacific swallows are found in many islands in the pacific ocean. Many migratory species of the swallow are found on the islands around Antarctica.

Barn swallows are found everywhere. Rough-winged swallows create their nest sites as separate pairs, but bank swallows prefer to nest in colonies. The size of the nest can vary according to the sub-species of this small bird.

What is a swallow's habitat?

The habitat of the swallow is open lands like grasslands, woodlands, savanna marshes, mangroves, and scrublands. They have adapted well to high altitude regions and their nests can be found in such regions too.

Many species have adapted to urban areas, or farmlands, across the world where they can find insects to prey upon as food and mud banks to build their nests. Barn swallow nests are essentially a hole tunnelled into vertical mud banks, as a result, this species is sometime referred to as mud nesters as well.

Who do swallows live with?

Swallows tend to be solitary birds, though they will come together for mating. Some species are known to form small colonial nests.  They are also known to form large flocks and nest communally.

How long does a swallow live?

The lifespan of a barn swallow bird is three to eight years. They may live less than this in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Swallow species in the wild prefer nesting in existing cavities such as an old woodpeckers nest. Some species will dig a burrow in softer soils. Some species will build mud nests close to an overhead shelter, which protects them from both the weather and predators.

They also form large nesting colonies. The male and female swallows share the responsibility of nest building. They are mostly monogamous pairs.

They lay white or speckled. They lay around four to five eggs in the month of April. In some species, the incubation duties are shared and in some, they are the sole responsibility of the females.

The incubation period lasts for ten to 21 days. The chicks hatch naked with just a few tufts of hair. Their eyes are closed for the next ten days.

Their parents take care of the chicks till they are thermoregulated. The feeding responsibilities of the chicks are shared by both males and females. They use the nest only for one season which means every season, swallows build a new nest.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the swallow species is of the Least Concern. Some species who lost quite a lot of population have the status 0f Critically Endangered. However, loss of habitat is a major concern for all the species.

Swallow Fun Facts

What do swallows look like?

Different species of swallows have different color patterns and minor physical changes. But overall they look quite similar. Their slender streamlined body with long pointed wings allows them to manoeuvre easily and endure long distance flying and frequent periods of gliding.

Swallows possess two foveae in each eye, giving them a sharp frontal and lateral vision to help track prey. They have long eyes which have almost the same length and width.

Their eyes are similar to a raptor’s eye. Swallows have short bills, but strong jaws and a wide gape. Male barn swallows have longer tails than the females, which they find attractive while selecting a mate.

Swallow birds belong to the family hirundininae.

How cute are they?

Swallows are a breed of various cute small birds that are found across the world. Swallows are known for their long distance migration and their sheer number of subspecies. The tail is frequently regarded as an adornment that enhances their appearance. Bird watchers love to watch swallows fly.

How do they communicate?

Swallows have different songs, or calls, that they use to communicate. They use their song to express excitement, communicate with others during mating, and also raise alarm.

The males are judged by the female on the basis of their song quality in order to determine their mating ability. The younger ones use begging calls to ask for food from their parents.

How big is a swallow?

Swallows are roughly 3.9-9.4 in (9.9-23 cm) in size. They are a smaller bird species in comparison to other songbirds.

How fast can a swallow fly?

Swallows spend most of their time in flight, and are known for their gliding ability. Their flight speed range is 32-40 mph (51-64 kmph). Their top speed could go up to 45 mph (72 kmph).

How much does a swallow weigh?

Swallows weigh 0.02-0.1 lb (0.35-2.12 oz). They are small birds.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male or female swallows. They are known as males and females respectively.

What would you call a baby swallow?

Baby swallows are called nestlings, chicks or young swallows.

What do they eat?

The swallow diet includes insects while they are in flight. Swallow species from Africa feed on seeds of the Acacia tree. They are known to eat a variety of insects throughout the world.

Are they dangerous?

Swallows are not dangerous, in fact, this species has adapted well to human habitation and they are found living in urban settings. They are gentle creatures who are more interested in flying.

Would they make a good pet?

Swallows have coexisted with humans for a long time now. They make a good pet, but it would be unfortunate to cage them as they are made for flying and exploring the world.

Did you know...

Barn swallows are the most depicted birds on the postage stamp. Barn swallow is the officially recognized national bird of Austria and Estonia. Barn swallows are known as social animals.

They drink water by skimming over the lake and can scoop water in their mouths. They bathe in a similar fashion. Swallows and swifts are extremely identical in appearance.

But unlike popular belief, swallows are not related to swifts. There was a popular idea that swallows spent their winters buried in mud of lakes or ponds. But there is no evidence to show this.

Do swallows kill their babies?

There is no evidence that the swallow kills their babies.

How did the swallow get its name?

The name swallow is used colloquially in Europe to indicate a barn swallow.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including mockingbird, or bowerbird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our swallow birds coloring pages.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Chandan Shukla

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

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Chandan ShuklaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

With a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi, Chandan is a skilled and passionate technophile. He has completed a machine learning training program and is adept in various programming languages. He has been working as a content writer for two years while also striving to become a proficient tech professional.

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