Swallows are fairly small birds which have a glossy blue back, a red throat and pale belly. They have distinctive curved wings and a long forked tail. They could be confused with house martins and sand martins but these both have much shorter tails and no red on the throat. They could also be confused with swifts, but swifts are larger, do not have a pale underside and have a distinctive sickle shaped wings in flight.

Swallows are extremely agile in flight, turning quickly in the air as they catch insects on the wing. They are often seen feeding low over pastures and water where there are plenty of insects. They tend to nest in buildings such as barns or under bridges.

They are an amber listed species meaning they are on the list of birds of conservation concern compiled by British bird conservation organisations. They have been included on this list due to their declining population sizes in Europe.

Why we’re interested

Swallows are migratory – they arrive in the UK in April and May to breed, and leave in September and October to fly back to Africa. There is evidence that as temperatures increase, Swallows are arriving in the UK earlier in the spring and leaving later in the autumn. The records collected in this survey will let us see whether this is the case in the Peak District.


Bird illustrations (c) Mike Langman

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