The Barn Swallow drinks by skimming low over lakes or rivers and scooping up water with its open mouth. This bird bathes in a similar fashion, dipping into the water for an instant while in flight.
The Barn Swallow is an attractive bird which feeds on flying insects and
has therefore been tolerated by humans when it shares their buildings
for nesting. As one of the earlier migrants, this conspicuous species is
also seen as an early sign of summer's approach.
Many literary references are based on the Barn Swallow's northward migration as a symbol of spring or summer. The proverb about the necessity for more than one piece of evidence goes back at least to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: "For as one swallow or one day does not make a spring, so one day or a short time does not make a fortunate or happy man."
Its long journeys have been well observed, and a swallow tattoo
is popular amongst nautical men as a symbol of a safe return; the
tradition was that a mariner had a tattoo of this fellow wanderer after
sailing 5,000 nmi (9,300 km; 5,800 mi). A second swallow would be added
after 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at sea. In the past, the tolerance for this beneficial insectivore
was reinforced by superstitions regarding damage to the Barn Swallow's
nest. Such an act might lead to cows giving bloody milk, or no milk at
all, or to hens ceasing to lay. This may be a factor in the longevity of swallows' nests. Survival,
with suitable annual refurbishment, for 10–15 years is regular, and one
nest was reported to have been occupied for 48 years.
Wingspan: 32–34,5 cm