Woodland Trust

Nature's CalendarNature Detectives

Have you spotted the first flowering of elder yet?

Swallow. Ken Billingon, Wikimedia Commonsswallow

Hirundo rustica

  • Swooping graceful flight on long wings with long, forked tail

  • Autumn juveniles have shorter tail streamers

  • At rest look for cream underside and dark red throat and forehead (more of a rusty-buff colour in juveniles)

  swallow fact sheet

Call is a cheerful 'vit vit' in flight and a rapid twittering song - click on the recording below to listen:

Young swallows on nest. Yannick Vallee, WikimediaCommonsWhere found

Open country, usually near water and houses. It builds its nest on ledges, beams and joists in sheds and outbuildings.

Gathers in restless flocks in autumn on telephone wires and with martins over marshes and reedbeds.

When to look for

  • A summer visitor from April - view live map

  • One of the latest summer visitors to return to Africa. Most depart by late September - view live map


Fabulous swallow facts

  • Until the late 19th century, swallows were thought to hibernate under water

  • Swallows often nested in chimneys before the advent of central heating

  • They drink by skimming low over lakes or rivers and scooping up water with their open beaks

  • One swallow was recorded as having flown 12,000 kilometres from Johannesburg to Russia in just 34 days