The Barn Swallows arrive at Mount Moreland in spring with numbers swelling to millions of swallows by early November. This Barn Swallow phenomenon attracts visitors from far and wide whom come to witness the mass evening swallow display before descending into the reedbed roost for the night.
This awesome spectacle, half an hour before sunset, of the Barn Swallows coming home to roost every night (Nov to April) has become a world wide attraction and recognized as a Natural Wonder and Global Treasure.
It is a sight to be witnessed and experienced, no words can describe the awesome Barn Swallow evening display other than seeing it with one’s own eyes.
The Barn Swallow (European Swallow) is not an endangered species. In fact it is currently plentiful. Why then does this little bird receive so much attention?
It is because the Swallow has an extraordinary lifestyle, eating and drinking on the wing – a lifestyle that takes it thousands of Kilometers across the Globe during migration and which brings it in close contact with humans during the spring and summer months.
It is said that the Barn Swallow enjoys a perpetual summer, no winter enters this bird.
The Barn Swallow is also referred to as the’ rain bird’ as they arrive with the spring rains after the dry winter.
In South Africa, as spring arrives in September, the migratory European Swallows/Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) start to appear. At Mount Moreland, South Africa’s largest roosting grounds, the initial small flocks swell to thousands and then millions of Swallows, by November up to 3 million Barn Swallows can be seen every evening over the Lake Victoria wetland roost until April. Evening displays differ widely during the Swallow season depending on weather, wind, degree of light and insects………an overcast sky can offer as equally spectacular displays as an evening sky with a picturesque sunset.
The reedbed roost site the Swallows have chosen is a wetland, locally known as the Lake Victoria Wetland, it is covered with indigenous Phragmities reeds. The Barn Swallows at Mount Moreland and their roosting habitat are now recognized as a world famous site and IBA (International Birding Area).
Visitors are welcome to visit the viewing site in the last week in October but the best viewing months are November
and March during the Barn Swallow migration. Visitors need to come half an hour before sunset, check the Map for directions. We advise that Swallow spectators bring your own chairs, sun-downers, picnic, binoculars and anti-mozzie cream.
A R20.00 per person fee is charged on entrance. Barn Swallow mementos and information booklets are on sale at the main table. There are no food or drinks available at the site.
The Barn Swallow viewing site is open every day during the Swallow season weather permitting.
The Mount Moreland Conservancy is the organization behind all this.
Over the past years through dedication, passion and commitment to the Barn Swallows and their reedbed home much has been achieved, recognized, shared and discovered and will continue with your support in helping to ensure the well being of the Barn Swallows now and into the future.Thank you to all those that have supported/sponsored/donated and come to witness and experience this truly amazing phenomenon.
Barn Swallow – European Swallow – Hirundo Rustica
Upper parts metallic blue/black
Collar band of upper chest blue/black Forehead and throat dark reddish chestnut Underparts cream/white to Rufus buff
Tail deeply forked with white windows Legs and bill black
Eyes dark brown
Lifespan: 2 to 13 years
Food: Flying insects (anthropoids)
Eats and drinks on the wing
Breeds late April to August in Northern hemisphere
Builds open mud and straw nest, sometimes lined with feathers, usually on a ledge or in a building of some kind, barn or stable.
Clutch size: 4 to 6 white eggs, marked with reddish spots over ash grey.
Incubation 15 to 19 days Young fed by both parents Fledge and fly 20 to 22 days
BARN SWALLOWS DO NOT BREED IN SOUTH AFRICA
International Swallow News
Thank you to all the Barn Swallow observers worldwide for contributing and participating to the growing library of stories, photos, videos, questions and Global Records. Read the Barn Swallow NEWS for the latest submissions or reflect on feature articles by country. For local updates check out the Barn Swallow Daily Log.