Barn Swallow Eggs: A Closer Look at These Fascinating Birds

Barn swallows are one of the most fascinating birds that you will ever come across. They are common throughout North America and can be found in many different environments.

These beautiful creatures lay their eggs in barns and other man-made structures, which is where they get their name from.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at these interesting birds and learn more about barn swallow eggs!

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Breeds of Swallows in the United States

There are eight swallow species that are found in North America:

  • bank swallow
  • barn swallow
  • cave swallow
  • cliff swallow
  • northern rough-winged swallow
  • purple martin
  • tree swallow
  • violet-green swallow

What Does the North American Barn Swallow Look Like?

what does the North American barn swallow look like

The barn swallow is a small songbird with blue upperparts and a rusty-colored throat and chin.

The bird’s belly and undertail are white, and it’s long deeply forked tail streamers are black. The male has shining blue upperparts and a rusty-red throat and breast. The female usually has more muted colors, but both sexes have two white stripes on the face and a white rump. 

Barn swallows are common throughout North America, where they can be found near open fields and bodies of water. The bird nests in holes in trees or buildings, and often congregate in large flocks.

The barn swallow is an important pest control species, as the bird eats vast quantities of insects each day. The barn swallow is also a popular subject of folklore and legend, often appearing in stories and songs as a symbol of good luck.

What Are the Mating Habits of Barn Swallows?

Barn swallows mate for life. Once they find a mate, the two will stay together for life. 

Their courtship includes aerial chases, and when they perch together they’ll sit closely, preen each other’s feathers, and even touch bills.

The breeding season for barn swallows is typically from May to August. During this time, the male and female will build a nest together, including the location of the nest site. The male will gather the materials for the nest while the female builds it.

The nest building usually consists of grass and mud, lined with feathers. Once the nest is built, the female will lay 3-5 eggs in it. The eggs hatch after about 2 weeks and the chicks are born blind and immobile.

The parents take turns feeding them until they are ready to leave the nest, which is typically 2-3 weeks after they are born. Barn swallows typically have one or two broods per year.

Where Do Barn Swallows Typically Build Their Nest?

The North American barn swallow typically builds its nest under the eaves of a barn or other building. The nest is made from mud pellets, lined with grasses and hair.

The North American barn swallow typically lays four to six eggs, which hatch in about two weeks. The young birds leave the nest after another two to three weeks.

You can often find barn swallows nesting near human habitation because they like the insects that are attracted to humans, such as mosquitoes and houseflies. They will also build their nests near other sources of insects, such as livestock.

What Does a Barn Swallow Nest Look Like?

what does a barn swallow nest look like

If you’re lucky, you might get to see a barn swallow nest up close. These nests are usually made out of mud, and they’re attached to surfaces like roofs or eaves.

The barn swallows build them by scooping mud with their beaks and then pressing the mud pellets into place. Once the mud dries, it hardens and forms a strong structure.

The barn swallows nest is usually cup-shaped, and they often have a small opening at the top. Inside, you might see feathers or bits of grass that the swallows use to line their nests.

If you look closely, you might even spot a few eggs! Barn swallow nests are fascinating structures, and it’s amazing to think about how such small birds can build them.

What Do Barn Swallow Eggs Look Like?

what do barn swallow eggs look like

You might be wondering what barn swallow eggs look like. Well, they are small and white with brown spots.

The eggs are about the size of a jellybean, and there are usually four or five in a clutch. 

The female barn swallow lays her eggs in a nest made of grass, twigs, and leaves, which she builds on ledges or in tree cavities as detailed above.

Watch the fascinating video below to see the nest-building process and then incubating the eggs.

How Long Do Barn Swallow Eggs Incubate?

how long do barn swallow eggs incubate

The incubation period for barn swallows is typically between 12 and 16 days. However, this can vary depending on the temperature and humidity levels in the nest.

The female barn swallow will incubate the eggs during the day, while the male will take over at night. Both parents will take turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm and protected.

Once the eggs hatch, the chicks will remain in the nest for another 18-21 days before they are ready to fledge or leave the nest. During this time, they will be fed by their parents and grow their feathers.

Once they are ready to fly, they will leave the nest and begin their life as independent birds.

What is the Typical Diet of the North American Barn Swallow?

The North American barn swallow typically eats a diet of flying insects. This can include anything from wasps and bees to flies and mosquitoes.

The bird will often hunt in open areas, such as fields or meadows, where there are plenty of insects to be found. In addition to catching insects in mid-air, the barn swallow may also glean them from vegetation or pick them off the ground.

During the nesting season, the bird will bring food back to its young, regurgitating partially digested insects for them to eat.

While the North American barn swallow typically eats a diet of flying insects, it is known to occasionally eat berries or other small fruits.

Do North American Barn Swallows Migrate?

do north american barn swallows migrate

You may have noticed that there are fewer barn swallows around in the winter. This is because these birds migrate south for the winter months.

Every year, barn swallows undertake a long journey to reach their wintering grounds. This typically takes them from Canada and the northern United States all the way to Central and South America.

Along the way, they will stop to rest and feed, before continuing on their journey. While we don’t yet know exactly how they navigate their way to their destination, we do know that they are able to cover vast distances in a relatively short period of time.

So, if you’re wondering where all the barn swallows have gone, now you know! They’ll be back again next spring.

Are the North American Barn Swallow Nests Protected?

The North American barn swallow is a protected species, and their nests are also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This means that it is illegal to remove or destroy a barn swallow nest, even if it is on your property.

If you have had barn swallows nesting on your property in the past and want to discourage them from returning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends that any old nests, including traces of mud, be removed before the birds return from their winter migration.

You can place physical barriers on potential nesting sites with materials such as plexiglass, plastic sheeting, or even silicone-based paint.

Once the swallows have arrived you can legally wash away the mud nests as long as there are no eggs or hatched chicks in them.

If you need further details please see the Fish and Wildlife Service information HERE

If you’re searching for some ways to discourage barn swallows from nesting on your property, here are some options to consider:

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Conclusion: Barn Swallow Eggs & More

Barn swallows are fascinating birds that can be found throughout North America. They are known for their aerial acrobatics, as well as their unique nests, which they build out of mud, twigs, and leaves.

They return to the same nesting site year after year, and will often raise multiple broods of chicks each season. If you have barn swallows nesting on your property, hopefully, your feathered friends can live in peace and harmony!