Swallows (Family Hirundinidae)

 

The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the Family
Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial
feeding.

 

The swallows and martins have an evolutionary conservative body shape
which is similar across the family but is unlike that of other passerines.
Swallows have adapted to hunting insects on the wing by developing a
slender streamlined body and long pointed wings, which allow great
maneuverability and endurance, as well as frequent periods of gliding.


Like the unrelated swifts and nightjars, which hunt in a similar way,
they have short bills, but strong jaws and a wide gape. Their body length
ranges from about 10–24 cm (3.9–9.4 in) and their weight from about
10–60 g (0.35–2.1 oz).

 

This family comprises two subfamilies: the river martins and all other
swallows and martins. The name "martin" tends to be used for the
square tailed species, and the name "swallow" for the more fork-tailed
species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two
groups. The family contains around 83 species in 19 genera.

 

The swallows have a cosmopolitan distribution across the world and
breed on all the continents except Antarctica.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Bird Families and Species

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