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Swallow Tales

Saturday, June 23rd 2018

At this time of year there are many summer wildlife visitors to the UK. Barn Swallows, Swifts, Sand Martins and House Martins all belong to the family Hirundinidae and come here to breed during the Summer months. They are small passerines with long-pointed wingss and spend most of their time in the air, where they catch insects. This year, their numbers appear to be significantly lower than in previous years. The bird ringers monitor several local nests and the number of these is definitely down on last year. In one location having gone from thirteen nests a few years ago to only five last year and a mere two this year. At this rate it is easy to imagine them disappearing from the UK skies completely in the near future. This would be incredibly sad as they really are stunning animals.

The Swallows are most striking as they are blue-glossed black above and have a deep blood-red throat and forehead. On the juveniles this is a buffish colour.


The males and females have the same coloured plumage but they can be identified by the length of their tail streamers. The female adult has slightly shorter and broader tail feathers (on the left below) than the male (right below). This pair were rescued and released after having flown into somebody's garage by mistake!

Swallow tails

The ringing team in Cape Wrath ringed some Barn  Swallows today: most likely the most Northerly ones in the UK!

(1) Comments:

Sam Hackett responded on 28th Jun 2018 with...

Just a small point.  You say in the first sentence that all the birds mentioned are in the family Hirundinidae.  This is true of all of them except the Swift which is in the family Apodidae which refers to the ancient belief that the had no feet!

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