Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, in storms and from exhaustion.

European swallows spend the winter in three different areas  –

  • Africa – south of the Sahara
  • Arabia
  • Indian sub-continent

Swallows take different migration routes depending on which area they are flying to and from.  This may explain why some areas of Britain have seen a drastic decline in swallow numbers and in other areas swallow numbers have remained static.  Could it be because some  migration routes have been safer/ easier  than others

When flying over areas such as the Sahara Desert they could easily starve during the flight.

Swallows –

  • Put on little weight before they start to migrate
  • Cover 200 miles a day
  • Fly mainly during the day.
  • They fly at speeds of 17-22 miler per hous.
  • Their highest flight speed is 35 miles per hour.

 I have found this British Trust for Ornithology website page.  The page  was last updated on 28th November 2008.  It may be worthwhile if every person logs all their swallow  details

Here’s hoping they have a good flight back from whence they came.


Swallow at rest in England

Swallow at rest in England


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  2. garth lowe

    It is great to hear so many people love their swallows but sad that in some areas there are less birds. This is one of the reasons I like monitoring them for the BTO in my three parishes, on the west side of Worcestershire. At present I am gathering nest records on 40 pairs and I know we have other pairs in nests too hard to get too, so we are having a pretty good season. One sad fact is some pairs have not learnt it can be disastrous to place their nests right under felt and tin roofs especially in a hot spell as we are now having. It becomes so hot the nestlings are forced to jump out of the nest and then possible die hitting a hard floor. If any of you have this happen it is possible to put up a container slightly lower down with an old swallow nest or hay in it, and move the young down. I did this recently when I found two dead and one just alive. It was the best thing to do as the last one would have died anyhow, so was worth a try. The parents recognise the chicks “peeps” for food when they fly in and feed them.
    I still have swallow sites where none have returned but at others the number of pairs has increased. As I explained before it is the adults coming back for a second or third season, that regularly return to the same site, and there could be up to a two third loss in adult birds making the migration successfully. In many years of catching swallows returning I have had hardly any moving to another site in my parishes. It makes sense to go back to a place they remember, where nesting places are known and there are places to feed. It is the first year birds coming back that have to find a place to set up home either in a new site they have disovered or manage to find a vacant nesting site with others.

  3. Trish Post author

    Thank you for this. It is really interesting. You do a lot of work don’t you. So pleased you have swallows. I’ve put this comment as a post and hope more people read it. I have never heard of swallows having to jump from nests – how horrible. But the ones we had usually nested in old buildings – I think. We saw them flying but could never sort out exactly where a lot of them were nesting.

    It’s funny what you say about having sites were there aren’t any swallows and some where there are. We don’t have hardly any. Yet 5 miles away I can see them flitting about and there are loads of them. We will never know what happened to the ones that did not return.

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