Six to seven inches long. Dark steel blue almost black head, back, long thin speedy wings and deeply forked tail with white spots. Rich chestnut forehead, throat and breast. Light brown underside. Short wide beak.
Almost always inhabits buildings and structures throughout most of North America and parts of Greenland. Winters in Central and South America.
Builds nests of mud pellets reinforced with grass or straw and lined with fine grass and feathers attached to ceiling rafters or walls near a ceiling almost always in open barns or other out buildings, country churches, long covered bridges of New England, beneath piers or open boat houses, sometimes under eaves.
Often returns to old nesting places.
Lays three to six speckled white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and fledglings leave the nest in about another three. Raise two broods. Adolescents from the first brood remain in the family and help feed the next brood of the same season.
They dive at intruders in their barn yards, snap their beaks and pull away just before making contact, although they adjust to familiar neighbors.
They feed exclusively on insects caught in graceful aerobatics during nesting season and also berries in late summer when they gather in large flocks before migrating.
Oddly, this bird was photographed high on a tree several miles from the nearest building, let alone a barn.
Photographed in Ste. Rita, Manitoba, Canada.
Canon EOS Rebel XTi; Sigma 150-500mmlens