Swallow Hirundo rustica

The swallow is a common summer visitor, arriving in April and leaving in October. They are glossy, dark blue-black above, white below with a dark red forehead and throat and a black band across the chest. The forked tail is very long.


Swallows build mud and straw nests on ledges, often in farm buildings and outhouses or under the eaves of houses. Swallows are widespread and common birds of farmland and open pasture near water. They are agile fliers, feeding on flying insects while on the wing. They can often be spotted perching on wires in small numbers. Before they migrate back to their wintering grounds in Africa they can be seen gathering to roost in wetlands, particularly reedbeds.


  • Length: 19-22cm
  • Wingspan: 34cm
  • Weight: 19g
  • Average Lifespan: 2 years


Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.



When to see

April – October


  • In North America and Europe, this bird is often referred to as the barn swallow.
  • British swallows migrate to West Africa in winter. They travel over 200 miles a day at low altitudes to reach their destination as quickly as possible.

Common name


Species name

Hirundo rustica

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

April – October

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Largiebaan or Loch of the Lowes.

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