Significance to humans

Typically, there is little direct interaction between humans and swallows. Sometimes, their nests on buildings are viewed as a nuisance and are removed by people. Only the African river-martin is hunted as a minor source of food. Humans may, however, have large indirect influences on swallow populations through the destruction of their habitat and the creation of toxic pollution. On the other hand, some species of swallows benefit from the presence of bridges, sheltered places beneath building overhangs, and other built structures that are used as nesting habitat. Some species are also aided by the provision of nesting boxes for their use. There are also indirect economic benefits of ecotourism and bird-watching focused on seeing swallows and other native birds in natural habitats. Species of swallows that live in residential and urbanized areas are often greatly appreciated by local people, and may even be considered harbingers of good fortune.

1. American cliff swallow (Hirundo pyrrhonota); 2. House swallow (Hirundo tahitica); 3. Square-tailed saw-wing (Psalidoprocne nitens); 4. Crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris): 5. Mascarene martin (Phedina borbonica); 6. Sand martin (Riparia riparia); 7. Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica); 8. Purple martin (Progne subis); 9. African river martin (Pseudochelidon eurystomina); 10. House martin (Delichon urbica). (Illustration by Brian Cressman)

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