Discover the wild: Local expert talks about some of the wildlife inhabiting Forsyth County – Forsyth County News Online
Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica
Distinct with its bright blue plumage and daubed mud nests, the barn swallow is easily one of the most interesting birds to roost in Forsyth County.
Often seen flying over bodies of water, pastures and other open areas, Demos said that the barn swallow is almost constantly in motion, skimming down over water and tall grass to eat insects on the wing or scoop up water and other materials to build mud nests for its young.
According to Demos, each year this small, migratory bird travels hundreds of miles, crossing the Gulf of Mexico from South America to build nests, earning its title as a “trans-gulf migrant.”
“The amazing thing is that they are flying all the way from South America … and in order to do that they’ve got to keep flying non-stop the entire way,” she said. “They could be going 600 miles in one trip before they can stop and put down.”
Demos said that in the 1800s the barn swallow was fiercely hunted for its bright blue feathers, which were sought after and highly valued for women’s hats. But along with more than 800 species of migratory birds, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 made it illegal to hunt, kill, capture or take any part of the barn swallow or its nest.
Look for the barn swallow in meadows, fields, farmyards or over water. Its nests can often be found on manmade structures like homes, barns, stables and bridges.
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