Adaptation in a population of living things happens as a result of an adaptive trait. This is any inheritable trait that increases it’s survival rate so that it can live longer, reproduce longer, and have more offspring (that also have that trait). Adaptive traits can improve an animal's ability to food, make a safer home, escape predators, survive cold or heat or lack of water.
A barn swallow’s diet is made up of tiny flying insects. These are not easy prey to catch midair. The barn swallow has to be a swift, agile flier. Barn swallows have developed adaptive traits that help them catch their prey. They have long, pointed wings and a long, forked tail. These physical adaptations have helped them become truly amazing fliers. Try to watch them while they hunt. They are almost too fast to watch!
The barn swallow's speed and agility in flight may also keep them from becoming prey. Birds of prey like the peregrine falcon, kestrel and broad-winged hawk all hunt birds. The swallow’s ability to change directions at high speeds helps it get away from winged predators as well as catch insects.
For Discussion and Critical Thinking:
The barn swallow has adaptive traits that help it catch the prey it needs to survive.
1. Name two of the barn swallow’s adaptive traits and how they help it survive:
2. Name two other animals that use speed to survive and how it helps them.
3. Name two other animals that snatch insects out of the air and how they do it.
Wild Science Workbook
Activities that Bridge Outdoor Exploration with Classroom Science
The activities in Wild Science will integrate outdoor exploration with the understanding and appreciation of science and environmental issues. Using Wild Science as a guide, we invite you to rediscover your sense of wonder about the natural world and share it with the children you know.
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Amsel, Sheri. "Adaptations of the Barn Swallow" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2019. September 18, 2019
< http://www.exploringnature.org/db/view/Adaptations-of-the-Barn-Swallow >