What Do Swallows Eat? The Complete Diet Of This Bird

What Do Swallows Eat

Barn swallows are the most widely spread among all the swallow species. Like any other bird species, the swallows also have their preferred diet and they also possess distinctive forked tail, blue coat, and acrobatic flying skills which helps them to catch insects.

But many bird lovers want to know the diet of these birds. Swallows have a varied diet but 99% of their diet includes insects. This makes these birds insectivores.

They catch the insects on their wings and they spend their hours foraging for food especially when they have to feed their young ones.

When it comes to hunting insects, these birds use their aerobatic skills to find and prey on airborne food sources. But due to climatic conditions, they get dietary restrictions. 

And In this article, I’ll explain all such details related to the swallow’s diet in detail. 

What Do Swallows Eat?

The diet of the swallow birds can depend on their habitat (UK, North America, or Europe). Swallows generally don’t feed on water insects like tadpoles. And the insects that swallow birds eat are:

  • Hornets
  • Flies
  • Dragonflies
  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Horseflies
  • Butterflies
  • Houseflies
  • Gnats
  • Flying ants
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Worms
  • Snails
  • Grasshoppers

How Do Swallows Catch Insects?

Swallow’s beak and mouth are ideal for scooping insects as they fly. The short rictal bristles at the border of the beak help the swallows to guide the insects to their mouth.

Swallows can use a range of flying patterns and maneuvers to catch the insects on the wing. The weather conditions are also linked with their flight behavior.

These birds are often seen as the natural cleanser of unwanted insects and they can eat an average of 60 insects per hour.

The different weather conditions affect the availability of the flying insects at varying levels. Swallows tend to hunt low during these days but they are capable of flying higher into the atmosphere on clear sunny days. 

Do Swallows Eat Birdseed?

Swallows usually eat bird seeds but they are not fans of garden bird feeders. It is so because these birds prefer to look for food and eat on the wing rather than staying static for feeding.

They can occasionally come to rest on the ground to peck seed but they become more vulnerable to predators at this point.

For swallows, there are a lot of insects available for them due to which they don’t tend to look beyond it. They look for other food sources only if insects are scarce. 

Do swallows eat mealworms?

Swallows can consume mealworms but it is not a natural food source for them. They prefer mealworms only when their diet is scarce. 

Do swallows eat bees?

Yes, swallows do eat bees and they often prefer to catch the large insects for better nutrition return.

They do prefer to avoid insects that sting and predate only on bees, hornets, and wasps. But it is only when their food source is under pressure. 

What berries do swallows eat?

Swallows can occasionally eat strawberries and can also eat blackberries if they are available to them before the migration. 

What do baby swallows eat?

The parent swallows feed their babies relentlessly when they are in the nest which is generally for around one month. These birds usually feed insects to their babies.

Both the parent birds have to bring back the proportion of their food for their chicks.

During the winter season, the parent birds forage for berries or anything else that is suitable for feeding their young ones. The chicks of the swallows do not receive enough nutrition because of the climate conditions. 

Do swallows eat baby birds or other bird’s eggs?

Generally, swallows don’t eat eggs of other bird species. But the unmated male barn swallows can kill and eat the babies of other birds. This is done to split up the pair of adult birds and to attract a mate. 

What else do swallows eat?

The diet of the swallows generally consists of insects with a small number of eggshells or grit to aid digestion.

In the autumn season in the UK, the food source for barn swallows get dries up which makes them migrate 6000 miles to Africa in search of insects and a suitable climate. 

How do swallows drink?

Swallows drink on the wing. They find a level in the atmosphere where there is water available. Swallows can even catch the raindrops as they perch or skim low over the water like rivers, ponds, and puddles. 

What Can I feed Swallows?

Swallows can get attracted to seeds and berries but it is better when used on the ground or on open feeder platforms.

However, the biggest attraction of these birds is flora and foliage which encourages a good supply of insects for these birds. 


Barn swallows have the largest natural distribution among all the world’s songbirds. Like any other bird species, these birds also have a diet that includes insects.

In reality, these birds are insectivorous as their 99% diet consists of insects. You can attract these birds by luring them by creating a natural habitat for them. 

At last, I hope this article may have helped you in some ways. Thank You For Reading!

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