This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Common or Chimney Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Fig. 43, belongs to the family Hirundinidae of the Fissirostral (cleft-beaked) birds, and sub-family Hirundininae. Its throat and forehead is chestnut-coloured or reddish brown, body of a bluish hue, wings and tail brownish, bill black, feet brown, or brownish-black, under the wings and belly inclining to buff.
Fig. 43. - The Common Swallow.
The bird arrives in this country about the middle of April and takes its departure towards the end of September or the beginning of October. It breeds twice in the summer, building a nest of mud against a wall under the eaves of a dwelling, or other convenient situation, mixed with bits of straw or dried grass and hair, and is lined with fine grass and feathers. The eggs, usually four or five, are white, speckled with brown or dark red spots. The young of the first brood generally fly towards the end of June, and the second at the end of August. The food consists exclusively of insects such as flies, gnats (including Daddy-Longlegs), winged aphides, small moths, and beetles on the wing, some beetles and other insects on the ground. According to a calculation made by a keen observer, one bird captures 5,000 insects per day and consumes 765,000 in the course of the summer. It is said that the house-sparrow drives away the swallow from its nesting-place, but, though well authenticated as occurring in some localities, has not come to our notice in either town or country districts, yet places where swallows have been accustomed to build are not infrequently occupied by sparrows, they acting on the good old plan of "take who have the power and keep who can " - the whole law of nature.