What's the difference between
a swallow
and a house martin?

What's the difference between house martins and

  • Both house martins and swallows feed on insects that they catch in the air. Both visit the UK in the summer and migrant to Africa for the winter.

  • Swallows are larger than house martins but this is not easy to gauge when seen in flight.

  • Swallows have a distinctive red patch under their chins. House martins have white chins.

  • House martins have white, often feathery, legs. Swallows have brown legs.

  • Swallows can have an off-white belly and underwings in comparison with house martin bellies which are always bright white. 

  • In flight, swallow tails are clearly forked while house martin tails form a solid triangle.