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An Inside Look at Barn Swallows: How They Do Their Part

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By Savannah Owens

Once again Barn Swallow season in Texas is coming to a close as the beautiful birds prepare to migrate south for the winter. Barn Swallows typically can be found in Texas sometimes as early as March and typically stay until June or July.  With this year’s cooler weather we have enjoyed a longer season with many birds  hatching out their last brood in July.

Barn Swallows are easily identified by their blue backs and wings and tawny colored underbellies. The have blue heads, with a cinnamon color around their beaks and chins. They have long forked tails that have hints of white in them.

 

Their nests are made of mud and straw, and often found on barns, porches, and bridges. “Swallows, their nests and its contents, like most other North American birds, their nests and its contents, are protected by both state and federal laws making it illegal to harass the birds or destroy their active nests.” A Texas Parks and Wildlife booklet explained.

Barn Swallows love to eat insects: especially mosquitoes, gnats, and flying termites. A single Barn Swallow can consume 60 insects per hour, that’s 850 bugs per day.

“Barn Swallow parents sometimes get help from other birds to feed their young. These “helpers at the nest” are usually older siblings from previous clutches, but unrelated juveniles may help as well…Barn Swallow populations declined by over 1% per year from 1966 to 2014, resulting in a cumulative decline of 46%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 120 million with 24% spending some part of the year in the U.S, 2% in Mexico, and 4% breeding in Canada. They rate an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score…”A Cornell Lab of Ornithology Article stated.

Barn Swallows are an important part of the environment-not to mention all of the benefits from having to deal with less mosquitoes in the hot Texas summers!

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Author: Savannah Everett

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