Swallow

Swallow

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The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Swallow is used colloquially in Europe as a synonym for the Barn Swallow.

This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows and martins). Within the Old World, the name "martin" tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name "swallow" for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups. Within the New World, "martin" is reserved for members of the genus Progne. (These two systems are responsible for the Sand Martin being called "Bank Swallow" in the New World.) The entire family contains around 83 species in 19 genera.

The swallows have a cosmopolitan distribution across the world and breed on all the continents except Antarctica. It is believed that this family originated in Africa as hole-nesters; Africa still has the greatest diversity of species. They also occur on a number of oceanic islands. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory. A few species of swallow and martin are threatened with extinction by human activities, although other species have benefited from human changes to the environment and live around humans.

Read more about Swallow:  Description, Behaviour and Ecology, Distribution and Habitat, Relationship With Humans, Taxonomy and Systematics

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Famous quotes containing the word swallow:

    It is cruelty to children to keep five-year-olds sitting still, gazing into vacancy even for one hour at a time. We have little idea of the torture we thus inflict.
    —Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards (1842–1911)

    I have eyes to see now what I have never seen before.
    Anonymous, U.S. correspondence student. As quoted in The Life of Ellen H. Richards, ch. 9, by Caroline L. Hunt, quoting Ellen Swallow Richards (1912)

    ...if we would be and do all that as a rational being we should desire, we must resolve to govern ourselves; we must seek diversity of interests; dread to be without an object and without mental occupation; and try to balance work for the body and work for the mind.
    —Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards (1842–1911)