Barn Swallow Trivia

Barn Swallow

Do you think you know the barn swallow? Test your knowledge of barn swallow FaunaFacts with this trivia quiz!

Click on an answer choice to receive instant feedback. Red answers are incorrect, but allow you to continue guessing. Green answers are correct and will provide additional explanatory information. Sometimes more than one answer is correct!

Learn More About the Barn Swallow | Play on Quizizz


What are alternate names for the barn swallow?
Swallow
In Anglophone Europe, the barn swallow is just called the “swallow”. In Northern Europe, it is the only common species called a “swallow” rather than a “martin”. It is also known as the “common swallow” and “European swallow”.
Common Swallow
In Anglophone Europe, the barn swallow is just called the “swallow”. In Northern Europe, it is the only common species called a “swallow” rather than a “martin”. It is also known as the “common swallow” and “European swallow”.
European Swallow
In Anglophone Europe, the barn swallow is just called the “swallow”. In Northern Europe, it is the only common species called a “swallow” rather than a “martin”. It is also known as the “common swallow” and “European swallow”.
Martin

How many subspecies of barn swallow are recognized?
6
Six subspecies of the barn swallow are generally recognized.
0
3
9

What is the barn swallow’s diet?
Carnivorous
Barn swallows are carnivorous insectivores and feed almost entirely on flying insects.
Herbivorous
Omnivorous

Barn swallows are migratory.
True
The barn swallow is susceptible to changes in climate with bad weather in the wintering areas as well as the breeding grounds affecting breeding success. As such, the barn swallow is migratory.
False

Barn swallows are considered a nuisance.
True
Some humans feel that barn swallow nests are a nuisance, and are unsightly when they are attached to buildings and other man-made structures. As such, barn swallow nests are sometimes removed as a nuisance.
False

How much of a barn swallow’s diet is caught in the air?
99%
Barn swallows feed almost entirely on flying insects and catch most of their prey while in flight. Flies, grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, beetles, moths, and other flying insects make up 99% of their diet.
25%
50%
75%

What sounds do barn swallows make?
Predator Alarm Calls
Barn swallows have a wide variety of calls used in different situations, from predator alarm calls, to courtship calls, and calls of young in nests. Nestlings give off a faint chirp while begging for food. Barn swallows also make clicking noises, which they create by snapping their jaws together.
Courtship Calls
Barn swallows have a wide variety of calls used in different situations, from predator alarm calls, to courtship calls, and calls of young in nests. Nestlings give off a faint chirp while begging for food. Barn swallows also make clicking noises, which they create by snapping their jaws together.
Nestling Chirps
Barn swallows have a wide variety of calls used in different situations, from predator alarm calls, to courtship calls, and calls of young in nests. Nestlings give off a faint chirp while begging for food. Barn swallows also make clicking noises, which they create by snapping their jaws together.
Jaw Clicking
Barn swallows have a wide variety of calls used in different situations, from predator alarm calls, to courtship calls, and calls of young in nests. Nestlings give off a faint chirp while begging for food. Barn swallows also make clicking noises, which they create by snapping their jaws together.

What is the barn swallow’s rhythm?
Diurnal
Barn swallows are diurnal.
Nocturnal
Crepuscular
Cathemeral

What preys on barn swallows?
Hawks
American kestrels (Falco sparverius) and other hawks, such as sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), eastern screech owls (Megascops asio), gulls (Laridae), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), squirrels (Sciuridae), weasels (Mustela), Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), domestic cats (Felis catus), snakes (Serpentes), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), fish (Actinopterygii), and fire ants (Formicidae) are predators of barn swallows.
Cats
American kestrels (Falco sparverius) and other hawks, such as sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), eastern screech owls (Megascops asio), gulls (Laridae), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), squirrels (Sciuridae), weasels (Mustela), Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), domestic cats (Felis catus), snakes (Serpentes), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), fish (Actinopterygii), and fire ants (Formicidae) are predators of barn swallows.
Snakes
American kestrels (Falco sparverius) and other hawks, such as sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), eastern screech owls (Megascops asio), gulls (Laridae), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), squirrels (Sciuridae), weasels (Mustela), Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), domestic cats (Felis catus), snakes (Serpentes), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), fish (Actinopterygii), and fire ants (Formicidae) are predators of barn swallows.
Ants
American kestrels (Falco sparverius) and other hawks, such as sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) and Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), eastern screech owls (Megascops asio), gulls (Laridae), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus), squirrels (Sciuridae), weasels (Mustela), Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), bobcats (Lynx rufus), domestic cats (Felis catus), snakes (Serpentes), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), fish (Actinopterygii), and fire ants (Formicidae) are predators of barn swallows.

Barn swallows live in close association with humans.
True
The barn swallow lives in close association with humans and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by humans.
False

Like all swallows, barn swallows are socially monogamous.
True
Like all swallows, barn swallows are socially monogamous.
False

What is the barn swallow’s mating system?
Polygynous
Like all swallows, barn swallows are socially monogamous. However, extra-pair copulations are common, making this species genetically polygynous.
Monogamous
Polyandrous
Polygynandrous

How long is barn swallow incubation?
2 Weeks
Both barn swallow parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in 13 to 15 days.
2 Days
1 Month
2 Months

Like all swallows, barn swallows share parental care of the young.
False
Although all swallows are socially monogamous, barn swallows differ from most swallow species in the sharing of parental care.
True

Which bird competes with barn swallows for nesting sites?
House Sparrow
In North America, introduced house sparrows (Passer domesticus) are serious nest-site competitors, taking over nests and destroying eggs and nestlings.
Osprey
Brown-Headed Cowbird
House Finch

What is the parental investment of the barn swallow?
Maternal & Paternal
Barn swallows differ from most swallow species in the sharing of parental care.
Maternal
Paternal
None

Barn swallows are opportunistic foragers.
True
Barn swallows forage opportunistically. They have been observed following tractors and plows in order to catch the insects that are disturbed by the machinery.
False

What is the barn swallow’s social system?
Social
Barn swallows are often seen in large social groups sitting on telephone wires or other elevated structures. Barn swallows also nest colonially, probably as a result of the distribution of high quality nest sites.
Solitary

There are currently conservation measures for the barn swallow in Europe.
False
There are currently no known conservation measures for the barn swallow within Europe.
True

What habitats do barn swallows inhabit?
Savanna
Barn swallows seek out open habitats of all types, including savanna, shrubland, grassland, inland wetlands, artificial terrestrial habitats, artificial aquatic and marine habitats, and agricultural areas.
Grassland
Barn swallows seek out open habitats of all types, including savanna, shrubland, grassland, inland wetlands, artificial terrestrial habitats, artificial aquatic and marine habitats, and agricultural areas.
Artificial Terrestrial
Barn swallows seek out open habitats of all types, including savanna, shrubland, grassland, inland wetlands, artificial terrestrial habitats, artificial aquatic and marine habitats, and agricultural areas.
Forest

The barn swallow is the most widespread species of swallow.
True
The barn swallow is the most widespread species of swallow in the world.
False

Un-mated barn swallows will help mated barn swallows with which tasks?
Incubation
Un-mated adults often associate with a breeding pair for up to an entire season. Though these “helpers” do not usually feed the young, they may help with nest defense, nest building, incubation, and brooding.
Nest Building
Un-mated adults often associate with a breeding pair for up to an entire season. Though these “helpers” do not usually feed the young, they may help with nest defense, nest building, incubation, and brooding.
Nest Defense
Un-mated adults often associate with a breeding pair for up to an entire season. Though these “helpers” do not usually feed the young, they may help with nest defense, nest building, incubation, and brooding.
Feeding the Young

Barn swallows have a symbiotic relationship with what bird?
Osprey
Barn swallows frequently engage in a symbiotic relationship with ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), coexisting in a single nesting area to the mutual benefit of both species.
House Sparrow
Brown-Headed Cowbird
American Kestrel

Barn swallows use what materials to build nests?
Mud
The barn swallow nest’s exterior is made from mud pellets mixed with fibers such as dry grass, straw, and horsehair. The nest is lined with dry grass and white feathers.
Feathers
The barn swallow nest’s exterior is made from mud pellets mixed with fibers such as dry grass, straw, and horsehair. The nest is lined with dry grass and white feathers.
Grass
The barn swallow nest’s exterior is made from mud pellets mixed with fibers such as dry grass, straw, and horsehair. The nest is lined with dry grass and white feathers.
Horsehair
The barn swallow nest’s exterior is made from mud pellets mixed with fibers such as dry grass, straw, and horsehair. The nest is lined with dry grass and white feathers.

What continents does the barn swallow inhabit?
Europe
The barn swallow is found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Asia
The barn swallow is found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Africa
The barn swallow is found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Antarctica

What is linked to longer longevity in barn swallows?
Tail Length
Survival prospects and longevity appear to increase with tail length and wing and tail symmetry.
Wing & Tail Symmetry
Survival prospects and longevity appear to increase with tail length and wing and tail symmetry.
Beak Length
Vibrant Red Markings

There is sexual dimorphism in the coloration of the barn swallow.
True, males are more vibrant.
Males and females are similar in appearance, though females tend to be less vibrantly colored.
True, females are more vibrant.
False

What is the global population of barn swallows?
290,000,000-500,000,00
The barn swallow’s global population is estimated at about 290,000,000-500,000,00 individuals.
290,000-500,000
2,900,000-5,000000
29,000-50,000

What is the barn swallow evaluated on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?
Least Concern
The barn swallow is evaluated as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Near Threatened
Vulnerable
Endangered

How do male barn swallows attract a mate?
Singing
Male barn swallows try to attract females by spreading their tails to display them and singing.
Tail Display
Male barn swallows try to attract females by spreading their tails to display them and singing.
Nest Building
Food Sharing

What is the barn swallow’s population trend?
Decreasing
There may be local population declines in barn swallows due to specific threats.
Increasing
Stable
Unknown

What is the barn swallow’s scientific name?
Hirundo rustica
The barn swallow’s scientific name is Hirundo rustica.
Passer domesticus
Tyto alba
Delichon urbicum

How do barn swallows negatively effect humans?
Unsightly Nests
Some humans feel that barn swallow nests are a nuisance, and are unsightly when they are attached to buildings and other man-made structures. Large colonies in urban areas can also create detrimental cleanliness and health issues for humans. Finally, salmonella can be transmitted through barn swallow feces, posing a threat to livestock that live in close proximity to barn swallow colonies.
Detrimental Cleanliness
Some humans feel that barn swallow nests are a nuisance, and are unsightly when they are attached to buildings and other man-made structures. Large colonies in urban areas can also create detrimental cleanliness and health issues for humans. Finally, salmonella can be transmitted through barn swallow feces, posing a threat to livestock that live in close proximity to barn swallow colonies.
Health Issues
Some humans feel that barn swallow nests are a nuisance, and are unsightly when they are attached to buildings and other man-made structures. Large colonies in urban areas can also create detrimental cleanliness and health issues for humans. Finally, salmonella can be transmitted through barn swallow feces, posing a threat to livestock that live in close proximity to barn swallow colonies.
Salmonella Transmission
Some humans feel that barn swallow nests are a nuisance, and are unsightly when they are attached to buildings and other man-made structures. Large colonies in urban areas can also create detrimental cleanliness and health issues for humans. Finally, salmonella can be transmitted through barn swallow feces, posing a threat to livestock that live in close proximity to barn swallow colonies.

How do barn swallows drink?
Skim Water While Flying
Barn swallows drink water by skimming the surface of a body of water while flying.
Absorb Water From Prey
Receive Regurgitated Water
Drink From Still Water Source

To where do European barn swallows migrate?
Africa
European birds winter in sub-Saharan Africa, although some individuals winter in southern and western Europe each year.
South America
Asia
North America

Barn swallows sing individually and as a group.
True
Barn swallows sing, both individually and as a group. Barn swallows have individual songs and often sing as a chorus.
False

Barn swallow chicks are born with feathers.
False
Barn swallows chicks are naked and helpless when they hatch.
True

How do barn swallows defend against predators?
Alarm Calls
Barn swallows usually give alarm calls when predators come near. They mainly escape predators by being swift and agile in flight and by building their nests in places that are difficult for predators to reach.
Swift, Agile Flight
Barn swallows usually give alarm calls when predators come near. They mainly escape predators by being swift and agile in flight and by building their nests in places that are difficult for predators to reach.
Secluded Nests
Barn swallows usually give alarm calls when predators come near. They mainly escape predators by being swift and agile in flight and by building their nests in places that are difficult for predators to reach.
Sharp Talons

What type of carnivore is the barn swallow?
Insectivore
Barn swallows are insectivores and feed almost entirely on flying insects.
Piscivore
Obligate
Sanguinivore

What type of predator is the barn swallow?
Aerial Forager
Barn swallows are aerial foraging insectivores and feed almost entirely on flying insects.
Ambush
Pursuit
Terrestrial Forager

How many broods will a barn swallow have each breeding season?
2
Barn swallows usually raise two broods of chicks each breeding season.
1
5
7

What percentage of barn swallow subspecies are migratory?
66%
Four of the six barn swallow subspecies are strongly migratory, and their wintering grounds cover much of the Southern Hemisphere as far south as central Argentina, the Cape Province of South Africa, and northern Australia.
0%
33%
99%

The barn swallow is hunted for sport.
True
The barn swallow is occasionally hunted for sport.
False

When is the barn swallow’s breeding season?
May-August
The barn swallow’s breeding season is usually from May to August, but this varies greatly with location.
August-November
November-February
February-May

How many eggs are in an average barn swallow clutch?
5
The female barn swallow lays a clutch of two to seven eggs, with an average of five.
2
7
10

Which bird parasitizes barn swallow nests?
Brown-Headed Cowbird
Although incidents of brown-headed cowbirds parasitizing barn swallow nests are rare, they have been documented.
House Sparrow
Osprey
Common Grackle

How many times per day do barn swallows feed their nestlings?
400
During the nestling period, barn swallow parents may feed their nestlings up to 400 times per day.
4
40
4,000

When do barn swallows sexually mature?
1 Year
Young barn swallows are able to breed in the first breeding season after they have hatched.
1 Week
1 Month
3 Months

What encourages barn swallow nesting?
Wooden Ledges
Nesting can be encouraged by providing wooden ledges or artificial nest cups made of cement and sawdust or papier maché.
Cement & Sawdust Nest Cups
Nesting can be encouraged by providing wooden ledges or artificial nest cups made of cement and sawdust or papier maché.
Paper Mache Nest Cups
Nesting can be encouraged by providing wooden ledges or artificial nest cups made of cement and sawdust or papier maché.
Dense Shrubbery

Where are barn swallows more rural?
Europe
The barn swallow is primarily a rural species in Europe and North America, whilst in north Africa and Asia it often breeds in towns and cities.
North America
The barn swallow is primarily a rural species in Europe and North America, whilst in north Africa and Asia it often breeds in towns and cities.
Asia
Africa

The barn swallow is native to all biogeographic regions.
False
Barn swallows are native in all the biogeographic regions except Australia and Antarctica.
True

Un-mated barn swallows are always male.
False
Un-mated barn swallow “helpers” are predominantly male.
True

How do barn swallows benefit other species?
Predator Alarm Calls
Other species are alerted to the presence of predators by barn swallows which give alarm calls when predators are nearby.
Territory Defense
Cooperative Breeding
Foraging Skills

How far will barn swallows forage from their nests?
0.5-1.2 km. / 0.31-0.75 m.
A study in West Virginia found that barn swallows foraged within 1.2 kilometers of their nests. In Europe, barn swallows foraged within 500 meters of their nest.
5-12 m. / 16-39 ft.
50-120 m. / 164-394 ft.
5-12 km. / 3-8 m.

Which barn swallows build the nest?
Mother
Both sexes of barn swallow help build the nest, which measures a cup or half-cup. Un-mated adult helpers may help with nest building.
Father
Both sexes of barn swallow help build the nest, which measures a cup or half-cup. Un-mated adult helpers may help with nest building.
Un-Mated Helper
Both sexes of barn swallow help build the nest, which measures a cup or half-cup. Un-mated adult helpers may help with nest building.
Nestling

The barn swallow is the national bird of which countries?
Austria
The barn swallow is the national bird of Austria and Estonia.
Estonia
The barn swallow is the national bird of Austria and Estonia.
Slovenia
Latvia

What is the average lifespan of a barn swallow?
4 Years
The average lifespan of barn swallows is 4 years. Barn swallows of 8 years of age have been documented, but these are considered the exception.
8 Years
12 Years
16 Years

There is sexual dimorphism in the outer tail-streamers of barn swallows.
True, the female’s is shorter.
Males and females are similar in appearance, though females tend to have shorter outer tail-streamers.
True, the male’s is shorter.
False

Europe forms what percentage of the barn swallow’s global range?
20%
Europe forms approximately 20% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 290,000,000-487,000,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
40%
60%
80%

What prevents the barn swallow from being endangered?
Large Range
Because of its extremely large range and population size and slowly declining population trend, the barn swallow is not endangered.
Large Population Size
Because of its extremely large range and population size and slowly declining population trend, the barn swallow is not endangered.
Slowly Decreasing Population
Because of its extremely large range and population size and slowly declining population trend, the barn swallow is not endangered.
Increasing Population

What do female barn swallows prefer in a mate?
Symmetrical Tails & Wings
Female barn swallows have been documented selecting for symmetrical wings and tails and longer tail feathers in potential mates.
Longer Tails
Female barn swallows have been documented selecting for symmetrical wings and tails and longer tail feathers in potential mates.
Asymmetrical Tails & Wings
Shorter Tails

What threatens barn swallows?
Agriculture
Changes in farming practices and the intensification of agriculture such as the abandonment of traditional milk and beef production have resulted in a loss of suitable barn swallow foraging areas. This can be attributed to a reduction in habitat as the barns and outbuildings which once housed barn swallows, give way to more urban settings. Intensive livestock rearing, improved hygiene, land drainage, and the use of herbicides and pesticides all reduce the numbers of insect prey available.
Habitat Reduction
Changes in farming practices and the intensification of agriculture such as the abandonment of traditional milk and beef production have resulted in a loss of suitable barn swallow foraging areas. This can be attributed to a reduction in habitat as the barns and outbuildings which once housed barn swallows, give way to more urban settings. Intensive livestock rearing, improved hygiene, land drainage, and the use of herbicides and pesticides all reduce the numbers of insect prey available.
Pesticides
Changes in farming practices and the intensification of agriculture such as the abandonment of traditional milk and beef production have resulted in a loss of suitable barn swallow foraging areas. This can be attributed to a reduction in habitat as the barns and outbuildings which once housed barn swallows, give way to more urban settings. Intensive livestock rearing, improved hygiene, land drainage, and the use of herbicides and pesticides all reduce the numbers of insect prey available.
Hunting

How do barn swallows contribute to the ecosystem?
Control Insect Populations
Barn swallows eat an enormous amount of insects and are very important in the control of their populations. They are quite effective in reducing insect pest populations. Barn swallows are also a useful food source for many predators. Barn swallows can also serve as an indicator or trigger organism, indicating possible environmental trouble, as declines in their relatively abundant numbers may precede other more obvious effects of environmental stress.
Predator Food Source
Barn swallows eat an enormous amount of insects and are very important in the control of their populations. They are quite effective in reducing insect pest populations. Barn swallows are also a useful food source for many predators. Barn swallows can also serve as an indicator or trigger organism, indicating possible environmental trouble, as declines in their relatively abundant numbers may precede other more obvious effects of environmental stress.
Environmental Indicator
Barn swallows eat an enormous amount of insects and are very important in the control of their populations. They are quite effective in reducing insect pest populations. Barn swallows are also a useful food source for many predators. Barn swallows can also serve as an indicator or trigger organism, indicating possible environmental trouble, as declines in their relatively abundant numbers may precede other more obvious effects of environmental stress.
Reduce Disease

How large is a barn swallow colony’s territory?
4-8 m.2 | 13-26 ft.2
Within a colony, barn swallows defend a territory around their nest. In European barn swallows, these territories range in size from about 4 to 8 square meters.
14-18 m.2 | 46-59 ft.2
40-80 m.2 | 131-262 ft.2
400-800 m.2 | 1,312-2,625 ft.2

What can help conserve barn swallows?
Traditional Farming
Large areas of suitable habitat need to be maintained for this species, through the continuation and promotion of low-intensity, traditional farming. In particular, this requires extensive livestock rearing, a reduction in pesticide use and the preservation of wetland areas and waterbodies. Long-term monitoring and further research into the impacts of climatic variation is also needed.
Livestock Rearing
Large areas of suitable habitat need to be maintained for this species, through the continuation and promotion of low-intensity, traditional farming. In particular, this requires extensive livestock rearing, a reduction in pesticide use and the preservation of wetland areas and waterbodies. Long-term monitoring and further research into the impacts of climatic variation is also needed.
Wetland Preservation
Large areas of suitable habitat need to be maintained for this species, through the continuation and promotion of low-intensity, traditional farming. In particular, this requires extensive livestock rearing, a reduction in pesticide use and the preservation of wetland areas and waterbodies. Long-term monitoring and further research into the impacts of climatic variation is also needed.
Pesticides

Barn swallows will nest anywhere with what features?
Foraging Areas
Barn swallows can nest anywhere with open areas for foraging, a water source, and a sheltered ledge.
Water Source
Barn swallows can nest anywhere with open areas for foraging, a water source, and a sheltered ledge.
Sheltered Ledge
Barn swallows can nest anywhere with open areas for foraging, a water source, and a sheltered ledge.
Proximity to Humans

What causes asymmetry in barn swallows?
Genetics
Asymmetry can result from genetic factors such as inbreeding or mutations as well as from environmental stress such as food deficiency, parasite infestation, or the presence of pathogens. Asymmetry of physical characteristics in barn swallows tends to be transmitted to the young in distinct parent to offspring patterns. Tail asymmetry tends to pass from father to son and from mother to daughter.
Food Deficiency
Asymmetry can result from genetic factors such as inbreeding or mutations as well as from environmental stress such as food deficiency, parasite infestation, or the presence of pathogens. Asymmetry of physical characteristics in barn swallows tends to be transmitted to the young in distinct parent to offspring patterns. Tail asymmetry tends to pass from father to son and from mother to daughter.
Parasites
Asymmetry can result from genetic factors such as inbreeding or mutations as well as from environmental stress such as food deficiency, parasite infestation, or the presence of pathogens. Asymmetry of physical characteristics in barn swallows tends to be transmitted to the young in distinct parent to offspring patterns. Tail asymmetry tends to pass from father to son and from mother to daughter.
Dehydration

How much did you know about the barn swallow? Share your results in the comments!

Learn More About the Barn Swallow

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