An ordinary swallow is a migratory bird, which has long been adjacent to humans. Since ancient times, these small creatures make nests under the roofs of houses. In addition, in some regions, swallows live in birdhouses that people create for them. In many cultures, these small birds are considered signs of wealth and prosperity, so beautiful creatures are often not afraid of people and settle next to them.
Common swallow - a migratory bird that has long been adjacent to humans
A vivid example of such a neighborhood is the purple forest swallows in the eastern regions of North America, where back in ancient times the Indians hung empty pumpkins, where these birds settled. Now this tradition has been preserved, but local residents hang out not only pumpkins, but also multi-family birdhouses. These birds are dependent on humans, since they almost do not settle in forest thickets, as it was before.
Habits of swallows and their habitat
Currently, 79 species of the swallow family are described. These creatures are found almost everywhere. Their habitat extends to Africa, Asia, North and South America, as well as Europe. A swallow is not always a migratory bird. For example, in warm regions, these creatures can live all year round. In the northern regions, only certain species of birds migrate in the spring. In a favorable period, swallows can find a sufficient number of insects to feed voracious chicks. It is thanks to the migratory lifestyle of these creatures that it is difficult to find a person who does not know how they look in flight and sitting on a branch. Even young children can easily identify them.
The size of the swallows is small. Weight depending on the species can vary from 12 to 64 g. The length of their graceful body can range from 9 to 24 cm.
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Despite the fact that various species of swallows live across the globe, these creatures have a lot of similarities, including:
- metallic shimmer of feathers on the back;
- wide chest;
- wide short beak at the base;
- big mouth;
- the absence of external differences between birds of the female and male;
- plumage close to the body;
- tenacious fingers with long claws;
- the absence of differences in the color of plumage in adult birds and chicks.
Swallows have very long wings with respect to the body. Their range can be from 32 to 35 cm. The appearance of various representatives of the swallow family has certain differences. Despite the considerable length of the wings, they are quite narrow. The tail resembles a fork in shape. Feathers on the back of birds usually have a dark color, while on the abdomen - white or light beige. Depending on the species, the plumage of the swallows may vary in color.
Since ancient times, these little creatures make nests under the roofs of houses
Despite the fact that people almost everywhere know what this bird looks like, many interesting facts about swallows have become known relatively recently.
Due to the unique body structure, they are distinguished by increased maneuverability, therefore they are able to catch even the most nimble insects, including dragonflies, on the fly. There are no insects that swallows could not catch. A wide open mouth allows this bird to eat right on the fly.
Sky Swallows (video)
Gallery: bird swallow (25 photos)
In regions with a warm climate, swallows remain year-round, since there is a mass of insects that they can feed on. Northern species are migratory. These birds are considered harbingers of spring, and this characteristic is noted in many cultures. Usually they arrive in early spring, and then at the beginning of autumn, when the number of insects is significantly reduced, they are sent to migration. Migratory birds make very long trips 2 times a year.
Swallows have very long wings with respect to the body.
However, even those swallows that do not fly away to climatically favorable zones during the winter period spend almost all their lives in the air. These creatures usually rest while sitting on a branch. They practically do not fall to the ground. This is due to the fact that it is extremely difficult for them to take off from the surface of the soil.
Due to the combination of short legs and a long tail, the birds walk very slowly, which makes them extremely vulnerable to predators.
A swallow can even fly directly above the ground or ponds, which helps her catch insects. In addition, it is known that these birds even drink on the fly. In the process of moving, they also feed their chicks. Usually, swallows settle near water bodies, where, as a rule, there is the largest number of their favorite insects, including dragonflies, grasshoppers and crickets. In the absence of something more substantial, they catch mosquitoes and midges. Swallows can reach speeds of up to 120 km / h. During the flight in places where the number of birds is very large, they emit piercing sounds, which are believed to help them maneuver among relatives. During the breeding season, they also have a characteristic twitter.
Recognize the swallow by voice (video)
Life expectancy and breeding birds
The habitat is crucial when it comes to building nests. In this regard, different types of swallows have their own unique features.
For example, urban swallows usually sculpt cup-shaped nests from small pebbles fastened with salted clay or mud. Often swallows build nests under eaves in sheds and even in attics. If the swallows settle next to the human dwelling, they try to arrange the nests so that the cats do not reach the hatched chicks. The depth of the bowl can reach 15 cm.
Shore swallows breed in the burrows made in the steep slopes of the shores. Here the chicks are reliably protected from predators. Digging holes in solid limestone is a significant challenge, but the swallows do not use their beak for this. The main tool is the claws.
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Some species of swallows prefer to settle in abandoned woodpecker nests, natural hollows and crevices of rocks. In rare cases, they can occupy the nests of other birds.
Swallows create polygamous pairs and annually return to a specific nesting place. During the breeding season, the males begin to spread their tails and chirp loudly. By such behavior they attract partners. The formed pair begins to equip the nest.
Regardless of the version of their home, the swallows strive to make it as comfortable as possible for the chicks. Often these birds spread the inside of the nest with soft moss or grass. However, the best material for arranging the bowl is bird fluff. Swallows are very cherished their feathers, so strangers pick up.
For example, in the vicinity of ducks laying nests with warm fluff torn from their breasts, swallows pick up feathers that are carried by the wind. Often these little birds arrange whole air battles to get the building material they need. After arranging the nest, the pair begins laying eggs.
Usually the mating period lasts a week. During this period, the female can lay 4 to 7 eggs. The color of the shell is usually white, but in some species it can be speckled or beige. Then the male and the female take turns incubating them. The incubation period takes approximately 16 days.
Chicks hatch completely naked and helpless. Further, both parents are involved in the process of feeding offspring, obtaining food for the children, and cleansing the nests of their litter.
Swallow chicks are extremely gluttonous. They eat food at least 300 times a day. With a sufficient amount of food, the chicks are fully formed in just 3 weeks. After that, they begin to learn to feed themselves. Life expectancy of birds is from 3 to 6 years.