Hirundo rustica erythrogaster

Status:  Common regular spring and fall migrant and breeder statewide.


Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM6456, 27 Apr 1904 Falls City, Richardson Co.

Taxonomy: Eight subspecies are recognized (Gill and Donsker 2017), seven of which occur in Eurasia and Africa; the only subspecies breeding in North America is erythrogaster (including insularis), of Alaska, Canada, and the USA south to southern Mexico.

See Cliff Swallow for reported hybrids with that species.

Spring: Apr 2, 3, 4 <<<>>> summer

Arrival is in mid- Apr and peak numbers occur in mid-May.

  • High counts: 708 in Hall Co 10 May 2003, 349 there 13 May 2006, and 302 there 11 May 2002.

Summer: Rapp et al (1958) suggested that this species was least numerous in the west, but the BBS Summer Distribution Map 2007-2013 indicates even distribution of high numbers across the state.  This change is probably related to the increased numbers of buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure in previously sparsely-settled areas such as the Sandhills and Panhandle.

This species has adapted almost completely to use of human structures, with very few instances nowadays of use of traditional sites, mostly caves (Brown and Brown 2020). Brown et al (1996) stated that a nesting on a cliff at Lake McConaughy, Keith Co in 1982 which may also have been active in 1981 was “one of few natural nesting locations on the Great Plains in modern times.”  BBS trend analysis show a statewide annual decline of -0.25 (95% C.I.; –0.91, 0.45), indicating populations in Nebraska are relatively stable.      

  • Breeding Phenology:
  • At nest: 26 Apr+
  • Eggs: 16 May-13 Sep (often two broods)
    Nestlings: 21 Jun- 12 Jul
    Fledglings: 28 Jun- 26 Jul
    A pair was working on its second brood in Buffalo Co 29 Jul 2003, with hatching 2 Aug (Mollhoff 2005).
    A pair in Omaha, Douglas Co had fledged three young and were starting a second brood 14 Jul 2011.

Fall:  summer <<<>>> Oct 24, 25, 25

Later dates are 27 Oct 2020 Conestoga Lake, Lancaster Co, 27 Oct 2020 Branched Oak Lake, Lancaster Co, 30 Oct 2011 Lancaster Co, and 1 Nov 2013 Douglas Co.

Aggregations are noticeable in late Jul; 750 were in Dixon Co 29 Jul 2019 and 260 in Saunders Co 21 Jul 2011. Numbers peak mid-Sep to early Oct and fall departure is mostly complete by mid-Oct.

  • High counts: 10,000 at Freeman Lakes WPA, York Co, 18 Sep 1999 (Jorgensen 2012), 3600 at Lake McConaughy 21 Sep 2000, and 3000 at Lakes North and Babcock, Platte Co 29 Sep 2011. “Thousands” in a pure flock were at Lakes North and Babcock, Platte Co, and “thousands” were at Wilkinson WMA, Platte Co, 9 Oct 2004.


BBS: Breeding Bird Survey
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (State)
WPA: Waterfowl Production Area (Federal)


Photograph (top) of a Barn Swallow at Fontenelle Forest, Sarpy Co 15 May 2011 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

Brown, M.B. and C.R. Brown. 2020. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Brown, C.R., M.B. Brown, P.A. Johnsgard, J. Kren, and W.C. Scharf. 1996. Birds of the Cedar Point Biological Station area, Keith and Garden Counties, Nebraska: Seasonal occurrence and breeding data. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 23: 91-108.

Gill, F., and D. Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird List (v 7.3), accessed 30 January 2018.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2012.  Birds of the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.  Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Mollhoff, W.J. 2005. The 2003-2004 Nebraska nest report. NBR 73: 15-19.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2021.  Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 8 Jun 2021