Article and photographs by Charly Mann
Barn Swallows can be found throughout rural Oklahoma's agricultural area especially near small bridges that are close to where cows or buffalo graze. They are often seen flying in groups of 12 or more in a frenetic zigzagging pattern that is low to the ground. What looks a bit like avian madness is actually their methodology for pursuing insects which they capture and consume in flight.
Barn Swallow perched on a fence outside of Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Barn Swallows are a rich blue on top. They have a deep orange throat and forehead. The rest of their head down to their eyes is deep blue. They are white underneath. Females have a slightly duller coloration than males. Barn Swallows are long and slender. While their shape resembles several other species of swallows, their distinguishing feature is their long deeply forked tail.
A front view of a Barn Swallow near Hulah Lake
These birds live in small communities and built their nests next to one another under bridges or the eaves of barns. Their nests are made of primarily mud and straw.
Barn Swallows are about six inches in length. They typically live four to six years, though a few have lived more than 12.
Note the forked tail of this Barn Swallow (taken at Tallgrass Prairie Preserve)
Barn Swallows migrate to South America in the Winter; many making it as far south as Argentina. They migrate as far as 600 miles a day, which is all done during daylight hours.
Newborn Barn Swallow
The Barn Swallow is the most abundant and widely distributed swallow species in the world.