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190 × 135 × 12 mm
208 pages
100 illustrations, 66 in colour
01 Nov 2015

Swallow Angela Turner

Known as heralds of spring and beautiful, elegant flyers, swallows are among the most beloved of familiar birds. Because they return with the spring, swallows have long been associated with the renewal of life, love, fidelity and fertility, while their ability to travel incredible distances has given them associations with freedom and speed.

That freedom, however, hasn’t kept them from becoming familiar figures in villages and towns. Unlike many animals, these birds have benefited from their close relationship with humans. They often appear to seek out our company; barn swallows have taken advantage of our buildings to make new nesting sites and purple martins use backyard nest boxes. However, as we encroach on their natural habitat, some swallow populations have dwindled to the point of extinction.

Bringing together an intriguing mixture of biology, mythology and legend, Swallow is a cultural and natural history that will delight the many fans of these popular birds.

Swallow is the latest in the beautiful series of books by Reaktion exploring the myths and legends surrounding an animal or bird. Elegant flyers, they seem attracted to humans, building their mud nests in the eves of houses and barns. They have inspired poetry, paintings and even tattoos as witnessed on the arm of Johnny Depp, when playing the part of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.’ — Scotland Outdoors

Swallow focuses on the relationship between people and hirundines, covering folk tales, customs and superstitious beliefs, literary and artistic references, as well as information about how humans have welcomed and helped hirundines in some areas for many generations. On the flip side, hirundines have also been exploited for medicine and for food.’ — BTO News

‘The author has clearly carried out a substantial amount of research, and the book contains lots of interesting information about the interlinked history of people andswallows. The photographs are of a high standard . . . Authors, poets, composers and artists have all played their role in the tales of the swallow . . . if you read it you will never look on swallows in the same way again.’ — Highland News

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Angela Turner is Managing Editor of the journal Animal Behaviour. She lives in Nottingham.


1. Swallows and Martins

2. A Winter’s Tale

3. Harbinger of Spring

4. One Swallow Doesn’t Make a Summer

5. Swallow Tales

6. Unlucky Birds to Kill



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