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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Barn Swallow -- Hirundo rustica

RANGE: Breeds from south-coastal and southeastern Alaska and southern Yukon across to central Manitoba, northern Ontario, and southern Quebec south to Mexico, the Gulf Coast, north-central Florida, and southern North Carolina. Winters in Central and South America, casually north to the southwestern United States and southern Florida.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs virtually throughout the whole United States wherever suitable nest sites are found, but favors farmlands, open forests, rural, and suburban areas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Overhead protection, especially buildings, for nesting.

NEST: Originally nested on cliffs and in caves and rock crevices in mountains, along rocky coasts, and on high shores of lakes and rivers. Still uses such sites in the north and on the Pacific Coast, but in other areas nests on horizontal beams or ledges inside barns or other buildings, or under bridges, culverts, or wharves. Usually nests colonially.

FOOD: Prefers to feed over water or fields, catching flying insects (especially flies) on the wing.

REFERENCES: DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Samuel 1971.

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