swallow


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Related to swallow: tree swallow

swallow,

common name for small perching birds of almost worldwide distribution. There are about 100 species of swallows, including the martins, which belong to the same family. Swallows have long, narrow wings, forked tails, and weak feet. They are extremely graceful in flight, making abrupt changes in speed and direction as they feed on the wing, catching insects in their wide mouths. Their plumage is blue or black with a metallic sheen, generally darker above than below. They nest in flocks in barns, sheds, chimneys, or other secluded places. The common American barn swallow, Hirundo rustica, is steel-blue above and pinkish beneath, with a rusty forehead and deeply forked tail. The purple martin, Progne subis, is deep violet with black wings and tail. Other American swallows, all with shallowly forked tails, are the cliff, or eave, swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), which builds jug-shaped nests of mud and clay lined with grass and feathers; the bank swallow or sand martin, which burrows into shore banks to nest; and the tree (Iridoprocne bicolor) and rough-winged (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) swallows. The so-called chimney swallow is a swiftswift,
common name for small, swallowlike birds related to the hummingbird and found all over the world, chiefly in the tropics. They range in size from 6 to 12 in. (15–30 cm) in length. Swifts have long wings and small feet and can perch only on vertical surfaces.
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. Swallows are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Hirundinidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

swallow

bird that cried “consolation” at Lord’s crucifixion. [Animal Symbolism: Brewer Dictionary, 1050]
See: Grief

swallow

harbinger of the spring season. [Animal Symbolism: Mercatante, 164]
See: Spring
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

swallow

1
1. Nautical the opening between the shell and the groove of the sheave of a block, through which the rope is passed
2. Rare another word for throat, gullet

swallow

2
1. any passerine songbird of the family Hirundinidae, esp Hirundo rustica (common or barn swallow), having long pointed wings, a forked tail, short legs, and a rapid flight
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
"I am waited for in Egypt," said the Swallow. "My friends are flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus- flowers.
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "will you not stay with me for one night, and be my messenger?
"I don't think I like boys," answered the Swallow. "Last summer, when I was staying on the river, there were two rude boys, the miller's sons, who were always throwing stones at me.
But the Happy Prince looked so sad that the little Swallow was sorry.
So the Swallow picked out the great ruby from the Prince's sword, and flew away with it in his beak over the roofs of the town.
Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince, and told him what he had done.
And the little Swallow began to think, and then he fell asleep.
"A swallow in winter!" And he wrote a long letter about it to the local newspaper.
"To-night I go to Egypt," said the Swallow, and he was in high spirits at the prospect.
"I am waited for in Egypt," answered the Swallow. "To-morrow my friends will fly up to the Second Cataract.
"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said the Prince, "far away across the city I see a young man in a garret.
"Is this Shark that has swallowed us very long?" asked the Marionette.