The decline of barn swallow populations may be mainly caused by the reduction of their foraging habitat. A clear understanding of the links between proportions of available and used microhabitats of foraging barn swallows in farmland, estuary, and island habitats would enhance our understanding of the foraging habitat requirements of this species and on the effects of anthropogenic activities, such as habitat conversion (e.g., land to water, crop fields to non-arable land), on their distribution. We hypothesized that: 1) foraging swallows would be more abundant in the most common microhabitat; and 2) swallow abundance would decrease with increased foraging distance from the nest-site. As predicted by our first hypothesis, swallows were more abundant in the most common microhabitat (i.e., crop fields in farmland and non-arable land on the island). Our data also support our second hypothesis that increased foraging distances from the nest-site negatively affected foraging swallow abundance. In summary, barn swallows foraged in the habitats most convenient to nest-sites, however, management of agricultural lands should include non-arable lands in the composition of available foraging microhabitats.
Cite this paper
Kang, S. and Kaller, M. (2013) Foraging habitat use of breeding barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) in farmland, estuary, and island. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 30-33. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.31004.
 Aarts, G., MacKenzie, M., McConnell, B., Fedak, M. and Matthiopoulos, J. (2008) Estimating space-use and habitat preference from wildlife telemetry data. Ecography, 31, 140-160. doi:10.1111/j.2007.0906-7590.05236.x
 Cody, M.L. (1985) Habitat selection in birds. Academic Press, Gainesville.
 Brown, J.L. (1969) Territorial behavior and population regulation in birds. Wilson Bulletin, 81, 293-329.
 Fretwell, S.D. and Lucas, H.L. (1970) On territorial behavior and other factors influencing habitat distribution in birds. I. Theoretical development. Acta Biotheoretica, 19, 16-36. doi:10.1007/BF01601953
 Sutherland, W.J. and Parker, G.A. (1985) Distribution of unequal competitors. In: Sibly, R.M. and Smith, R.H. Eds., Behavioural Ecology: Ecological Consequences of Adaptive Behavior, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, 224-274.
 Newton, I. (1998) Population limitation in birds. Academic Press, California.
 Johnson, M.D. (2007) Measuring habitat quality: A review. Condor, 109, 489-507. doi:10.1650/8347.1
 Vickery, J.A., Tallowin, J.R., Feber, R.E., Asteraki, E.J., Atkinson, P.W., Fuller, R.J. and Brown, B.K. (2001) The management of lowland neutral grasslands in Britain: Effects of agricultural practices on birds and their food resources. Journal of Applied Ecology, 38, 647-664.
 Benton, T.G., Bryant, D.M, Cole, L. and Crick, H.Q.P. (2002) Linking agricultural practice to insect and bird populations: A historical study over three decades. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 673-687.
 Benton, T.G., Vickery, J.A. and Wilson, J.D. (2003) Farmland biodiversity: is habitat heterogeneity the key? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 18, 182-188.
 Burfield, I. and van Bommel, F. (2004) Birds in Europe: Population estimates, trends and conservation status. Bird Life International, Cambridge.
 Newton, I. (2004) The recent declines of farmland bird populations in Britain: an appraisal of causal factors and conservation actions. Ibis, 146, 579-600.
 Donald, P.E., Sanderson, F.J., Burfield, I.J. and Bommel, F.P.J. (2006) Further evidence of continent-wide impacts of agricultural intensification on European farmland birds, 1990-2000. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 116, 189-196. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2006.02.007
 Grüebler, M.U., Komer-Nievergelt, F. and Hirschheydt, J.V. (2010) The reproductive benefits of livestock farming in barn swallows Hirundo rustica: Quality of nest site or foraging habitat? Journal of Applied Ecology, 47, 1340-1347. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01873.x
 Robinson, R.A. and Sutherland, W.J. (2002) Post-war changes in arable farming and biodiversity in Great Britain. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 157-176.
 Robinson, R.A., Crick, H.Q.P. and Peach, W.J. (2003) Population trends of swallows Hirundo rustica breeding in Britain. Bird Study, 50, 1-7.
 Evans, K.L. and Robinson, R.A. (2004) Barn swallows and agriculture. British Birds, 97, 218-230.
 Moller, A.P. (2001) The effect of dairy farming on barn swallow Hirundo rustica abundance, distribution and reproduction. Journal of Applied Ecology, 38, 378-389.
 Ambrosini, R., Bolzern, A.M., Canoval, L., Arieni, S., Moller, A.P. and Saino, N. (2002) The distribution and colony size of barn swallows in relations to agricultural land use. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 524-534.
 Evans, K.L., Wilson, J.D. and Bradbury, R.B. (2007) Effects of crop type and aerial invertebrate abundance on foraging barn swallows Hirundo rustica. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 122, 267-273.
 Henderson, I., Holt, C. and Vickery, J. (2007) National and regional patterns of habitat association with foraging barn swallows Hirundo rustica in the UK. Bird Study, 54, 371-377. doi:10.1080/00063650709461497
 Warrick, D.R. (1998) The turning- and linear-maneuvering performance of birds: The cost of efficiency for coursing insectivores. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 76, 1063-1079. doi:10.1139/z98-044
 McCarty, J.P. and Winkler, D.W. (1999) Foraging ecology and diet selectivity of tree swallows feeding nestlings. Condor, 101, 246-254. doi:10.2307/1369987
 Zuur, F.F., Ieno, E.N., Walker, N.J., Savelley, A.A. and Smith, G.M. (2009) Mixed effects models and extensions in ecology with R statistics for biology and health series. Springer Science + Business Media, LLC, New York.
 Peng, R.K., Fletcher, C.R. and Sutton, S. (1992) The effect of microclimate on flying Depterans. International Journal of Biometeorology, 36, 69-76.
 Norberg, U.M. (1990) Vertebrate flight: Mechanics, physiology, morphology, ecology and evolution. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
 Evans, K.L., Bradbury, R.B. and Wilson, J.D. (2003) Selection of hedgerows by barn swallows Hirundo rustica foraging on farmland: The influence of local habitat and weather. Bird Study, 50, 8-14.
 Schmidt-Nielsen, K. (1972) Locomotion: Energy cost of swimming, flying, and running. Science, 177, 222-228.