Swallow

Swallow

Just as the call of the cuckoo is the most welcome and widely recognised sound of spring, same with the sight of the first swallow, its visual counterpart, for this is the first migrant apt to be seen by people who do not deliberately attempted to meet each returning species since it's time becomes due.

Its house-haunting habits, and particularly its faithfulness to old sites, coupled with distinctive plumage along with a musical twitter, make its arrival hard to miss.

The returning birds have the symptoms of a remarkable a feeling of exact location; thus when a classic shed was replaced, during wintertime, by a modern structure, the former swallow tenant, on the day's its arrival, repeatedly swooped and hovered at the blank new wall, at the precise spot where formerly the ever-open half-door have been.

The swallow, before the times of settled human communities, should have been limited to areas by which caves or hollow trees afforded nesting-sites. Even if the widespread substitution of chimney pots for wide open chimneys stop one traditional nesting-site, the ex-'chimney-swallow' had still many alternatives both in town and country-stables, coach-houses, cowsheds, pig-sties and outhouses-in which to nest.

Modern ways of housing both the current type of 'horse-power' and farm livestock leave fewer points of access for the home-seeking swallow today, and there's a general impression that the species isn't now so plentiful since it once was. But, however true this can be of an observer's immediate surroundings, the large southward passages throughout September and early October, and the vast roosting-assemblies in reed-beds in the same period, supply reassuring evidence that somewhere the swallow still breeds by the bucket load.

Bird Details
Haunts: 

Open country with human habitations and outbuildings, especially if some water in neighbourhood.

Appearance: 

Blue-black plumage of back, red-brown breast and forehead, and long forked tail at the same time distinguish this from others of swallow family.

Voice: 

A pleasing short twittering note much utilized in flight, but song from perch, or sometimes flying, a musical, warbling mixture of'tweetzee' sounds.

Food: 

Insects, from small gnats to crane-flies, adopted wing; in exceptional cases might take food from ground-large party, probably passage-migrants, once observed chosen sea-shore, making short runs to capture sand-hoppers.

Nesting: 

Usually within building, and most often in place with some support beneath, for example on rafter or perhaps in corner ledge. Nest an open, rather shallow cup (or segment of cup in corner sites), made from pellets of mud intermingled with hay or straw, well-lined with feathers. 4-6 eggs, white, spotted variably with brownish-red. Often a second brood, and frequently a third-sometimes in old nest, sometimes in fresh one, usually in same site.