The same species breeds all round the Northern Hemisphere. American ones are rather pinker underneath. Summer migrants wintering in the tropics and even further south.
The males have exaggeratedly elongated outer tail feathers which are very important as badges of quality. The birds feed in the air and nest generally in or on buildings is a mud nest. Often congregates in flocks on wires in the autumn before migrating and uses reed-bed roosts on migration and in the winter. The birds have dark metallic blue upper-parts and chestnut breast-band and forehead. The tail has small white mirrors on it but the rump is not white - that would be a House Martin in Britain. British and Irish breeding population about 800,000.
One of the most familiar and loved birds.
The following Bird On! pictures are available:
Length 180 mm Closed wing 123 mm Weight 18 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead