Species of the Month: Barn Swallow (April, 2022)

May 2, 2022

Defining Characteristics

  • medium-sized songbird (approximately 15-18 cm long)


  • Glossy blue-black plumage on their back and upper wings, rusty red forehead and throat
  • Short bill and a broad blue breast band above its tawny underbelly
  • Long tail feathers which form a deep fork and a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail


  • Tail feathers are shorter, the blue of her upper parts and breast band are less glossy, and her underside is paler.


Barn Swallows frequently dwell in close proximity to humans. They almost exclusively make their cup-shaped mud nests on human-made structures such as open barns, under bridges, and in culverts. Barn swallows favour open structures such as ledges where they can build their nests. They will often re-use the the same nest for multiple years. Because mud does not attach as well to polished surfaces, they tend to choose unpainted, rough-cut wood.

Population decline: 

Barn Swallow populations in Ontario have declined at more than 2.5% annually, resulting in a cumulative loss of 66% since 1970. They are now considered a threatened species.

Barn Swallow Facts:

  • Each fall, Barn Swallows make the long flight to Central and South America. They return to Ontario and other southern parts of Canada each spring.  

Barn Swallows and EBC:
Barn swallows have a home on 13 of our nature reserves. Help us protect more Ontario land to provide more homes for this threatened species. Donate by clicking here!

barn swallow