Swallows and Martins

82 species

The swallows, martins, and saw-wings are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are nonmigratory. The legs of these birds are short, and their feet are adapted for perching rather than walking, as the front toes are partially joined at the base. Swallows are capable of walking and even running, but they do so with a shuffling, waddling gait. Swallows are excellent flyers, and use these skills to feed and attract mates. Some species are territorial, whereas others are not and simply defend their nesting sites. Outside the breeding season, some species may form large flocks, and species may also roost communally. These roosts can be enormous and may gather up to 1.5 million individuals. For the most part, swallows are insectivorous and generally catch prey on the wing. Pairs of mated swallows are monogamous and typically lay around four to five eggs in temperate areas and two to three eggs in the tropics. The chicks of swallows hatch naked and their eyes do not fully open for up to 10 days. When the young fledge is difficult to determine, as they are enticed out of the nest after three weeks by parents, but frequently return to the nest afterward to roost.
The swallows, martins, and saw-wings are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are nonmigratory. The legs of these birds are short, and their feet are adapted for perching rather than walking, as the front toes are partially joined at the base. Swallows are capable of walking and even running, but they do so with a shuffling, waddling gait. Swallows are excellent flyers, and use these skills to feed and attract mates. Some species are territorial, whereas others are not and simply defend their nesting sites. Outside the breeding season, some species may form large flocks, and species may also roost communally. These roosts can be enormous and may gather up to 1.5 million individuals. For the most part, swallows are insectivorous and generally catch prey on the wing. Pairs of mated swallows are monogamous and typically lay around four to five eggs in temperate areas and two to three eggs in the tropics. The chicks of swallows hatch naked and their eyes do not fully open for up to 10 days. When the young fledge is difficult to determine, as they are enticed out of the nest after three weeks by parents, but frequently return to the nest afterward to roost.