Because of its deeply forked tail, the Barn Swallow is easily recognized by those who live throughout its vast range, which in the Western Hemisphere is from Canada to South America.  But this bird is also recognized for the important ecological service it provides by controlling insects.  A friend to farmers everywhere, it can consume up to 60 insects per hour and up to 850 in a day!  This species is part of a group called “aerial insectivores,” birds that feed on insects while flying, which includes nightjars, flycatchers, swifts, and other species of swallows.  These birds have experienced dramatic population declines, which scientists think is due to a decrease in the number of insects.  What can you do to help?  While there may be multiple factors at play, you can take the simple action of not using pesticides at your house and encourage that at your place of work, too.  Leave the insects for the aerial insectivores!


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