Swallow flying low over grass towards camera (c) Jacky Stuart


Swallows are migratory and flock in large numbers in September ready to fly to Africa, south of the Sahara. In early April, they return to the UK often roosting communally in reed beds outside of the breeding season. Adult birds are similar in appearance although males have noticeably longer tail streamers. Swift and agile in flight, they are insectivorous, plucking insects from the air as they go. To rehydrate whilst flying they simply skim the surface of a body of water.

Did you know?
Barn swallows feed their young up to 400 times a day.

How to identify swifts, swallows and martins.

Scientific name: Hirundo rustica

Rank: Species

Common names:

Barn swallow

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Map showing the distribution of the Swallow taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Swallow can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Madagascar, Mediterranean, North America, Russia, South America, United Kingdom, Wales, Ynys-hir nature reserve. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Swallow distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

Characters we've followed

  • Swallows nest The Pensthorpe Swallows

    In 2010 Springwatch followed a family of swallows nesting high up in the eaves of a barn at Pensthorpe.

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