Monday, May 30, 2011


     Many villagers are familiar with the graceful shape of the swallow gliding gracefully through the sky, catching insects in mid-flight. There are two kinds of swallows found in the village: the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) and the Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica). Both kinds of swallows have glossy blue-black heads and backs, white bellies, and reddish foreheads, throats, and chests. Both also have long, narrow, pointed wings. The two swallows can be told apart by observing their tails. The Barn Swallow has a deeply forked tail. Its outer tail feathers are long and thin. The Barn Swallow also has a glossy blue-black breast band. Sometimes though, this breast band is partially missing or incomplete. The Pacific Swallow has a less deeply forked tail, without the long, thin outer tail feathers. Its belly is also grayish rather than the pale buff or white of the Barn Swallow.  In Pilipino, both kinds of swallows are called layang-layang.

    The Barn Swallow is a world traveler. It is has been called "the most beloved bird in the world". Barn Swallows indeed have many things going in their favor. They are attractively colored, fly gracefully, eat insects, and nest near humans. What's not to love? A few years ago, a pair of Barn Swallows was featured in many websites and passed around in emails. The story was called, "True Love Story of a Bird" and showed one Barn Swallow grieving over the lifeless body of its mate. The Barn Swallow was shown bringing food to it's mate, trying to get it to move, and eventually just looking forlorn, standing on the ground by it's mate. Barn Swallows truly are faithful partners and form monogamous pairs. They breed all over North America, Africa and Eurasia and migrate to South America, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia for winter.

    Pacific Swallows are resident birds. This means that they live and breed in the Philippines the whole year round. Pacific Swallows build cup-shaped nests fastened to eaves of houses, undersides of bridges, and overhangs. Their nests are made mostly of mud, unlike the edible nests of swifts that are made of saliva. Oddly though, there are have been reports of maintenance personnel collecting swallow nests in the village!

      Barn and Pacific Swallows are found in many places all over the village. They are often found together, although the Pacific Swallow is usually found near water. They can be found in groups pursuing insects and catching them in mid-air. This type of feeding is called hawking. Some good areas to see them are in open lots, in the polo field, on the golf course, and the stretch of Country Club Dr. by the golf course.  

photo of a Pacific Swallow by Tonji Ramos
You can see more pictures of Barn Swallows in my website

You can also see more picture of Pacific Swallows in my website
Here's a link to True Love Story of a BIrd
Happy Birding!

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