What Do Swallows Swallow?

Swallows eat mainly flying insects, including mosquitoes and other harmful species, so people benefit from swallows being around. And their graceful movements are among the loveliest of any bird.

To catch enough flying insects for survival and good health, swallows spend most of their waking hours on the wing, darting here and there to sweep up small and large insects in their big, wide mouths. When they aren't swooping about, they rest on branches or power lines. A scientist who studied Barn Swallows once calculated that Barn Swallows fly about 600 miles per day just coursing back and forth capturing insects. During migration, swallows are simply flying more in a straight line than back and forth, and so unless they're flying over a large body of water where they can't rest, swallows don't do much more work in migrating than they do in their normal day-to-day living. Because they eat as they go, and because they fly all day anyway, swallows tend to migrate by day (most small songbirds migrate at nighttime). Once in a while a swallow gets lost at sea, but swallows usually follow a land course as they migrate.

Try This! Journaling Question

  • Think about the way in which swallows eat. What adaptations would be important t for the way swallows eat?