Length-6. 5 to 7 inches. A trifle larger than the English sparrow. Apparently considerably larger, because of its wide wing-spread.
MaleGlistening steel-blue shading to black above. Chin, breast, and underneath bright chestnut-brown and brilliant buff that glistens in the sunlight. A partial collar of steel-blue. Tail very deeply forked and slender.
FemaleSmaller and paler, with shorter outer tail feathers, making the fork less prominent.
RangeThroughout North America. Winters in tropics of both Americas.
MigrationsApril. September. Summer resident.
Any one who attempts to describe the coloring of a bird’s plumage knows how inadequate words are to convey a just idea of the delicacy, richness, and brilliancy of the living tints. But, happily, the beautiful barn swallow is too familiar to need description. Wheeling about our barns and houses, skimming over the fields, its bright sides flashing in the sunlight, playing ” cross tag ” with its friends at evening, when the insects, too, are on the wing, gyrating, darting, and gliding through the air, it is no more possible to adequately describe the exquisite grace of a swallow’s flight than the glistening buff of its breast.
This is a typical bird of the air, as an oriole is of the trees and a sparrow of the ground. Though the swallow may often be seen perching on a telegraph wire, suddenly it darts off as if it had received a shock of electricity, and we see the bird in its true element.
While this swallow is peculiarly American, it is often con-founded with its European cousin Hirundo rustica in noted ornithologies.
Up in the rafters of the barn, or in the arch of an old bridge that spans a stream, these swallows build their bracket-like nests of clay or mud pellets intermixed with straw. Here the noisy little broods pick their way out of the white eggs curiously spotted with brown and lilac that were all too familiar in the marauding days of our childhood.