South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Length: 6.5 to 7.5 inches Wingspan: 13 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Long forked tail, rusty brown throat and forehead, dark blue upperparts, white belly.

Barn Swallow - Hirundo rusticaBarn Swallows are very common summer resident.  Very comfortable around human activity, they now primarily nests in and around buildings and bridges.  They have probably greatly increased in numbers due to man-induced land cover change. An adult is pictured on the right, while a juvenile can be found in additional photos at the bottom of the page.

Habitat: Semi-open country.  Nests under/on bridges, barns, houses, culverts, and caves.  Feeds over nearly any type of semi-open terrain.

Diet: Mostly flying insects. Only very rarely eats any vegetable matter, usually seeds or berries.

Behavior: Catches and consumes nearly all insects in the air, often flying low over open fields or water bodies.  They will also feed on the ground or in vegetation, but only in rare instances of very bad weather.

Nesting: Late May through Late June

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Barn Swallow Song, also Barn Swallow Flight Call.

Migration: Neotropical migrant.  Generally migrates very early in the fall.  Barn Swallows are found throughout much of North America and Eurasia in the summer, migrating southward to South America, southern Asia, and Africa in the winter.

Similar Species: Cliff Swallow

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Barn Swallow

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Barn Swallow"

3) Barn Swallow

Photo Information: August 1st, 2004 -- Near Lake Thompson -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Barn Swallow photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Barn Swallow - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and summer resident throughout the state.