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The Great Swallow Migration

European Swallow European Swallow 2

The European Swallow, also known as the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most widespread of all of its kind, found in Asia, Africa, Europe, America and even some parts of Australia. These are one of the many bird species that migrate to the northern hemisphere in our winter, where they breed. The last view weeks I could see them gathering on roads and trees, getting ready for the long flight north.


The European swallow’s migration between South Africa and Britain has been tracked since 23 December 1912. A bird was tagged in Staffordshire - a country in the west midlands of England, and later found in KwaZulu Natal – South Africa. In our summer, from October/November, they travel back to the south, after the tasty meals such as insects.

These swallows are seen close to humans, as they use buildings and man-made structures to build their nests. Nests are created from mud and build under bridges, house roofs and barns – this is how they get their second name (Barn Swallow). Before man-made sites were available, they nested on cliff faces or in caves.

When breeding season arrive, the males will actually migrate north before the females. They will create their nests, grow longer tail feathers to attract attention and wait in anticipation for a worthy mate. The longer the tail, the more attractive the male will look to the female, also indicating stronger genes. Thus, females will rather choose the males with the longest tails.

Relationship with humans

This swallow has a generally good relationship with humans, and we tolerate them, even though they could make a mess on your porch. They help rid areas of insects and farmers can use their migration to South Africa as an indication on summer’s arrival.

This is a gorgeous bird with the sunlight enhancing their beautiful colors, it is also the national bird of Estonia