Common plane (Delichon urbicum)

Photograph from

One of the urban birds that we are most used to seeing along with the sparrows although we cannot identify it. The Plane is an inhabitant of our streets. We see them flying through them and nesting on balconies and corners.

They breed in colonies on farms, towns and cities and also in open land although it is attracted to houses.

It is a summer migratory bird (from April to October). Very confident with humans. Of the family Hirundinidae like swallows. Relatively small-sized passerines with long, pointed wings. Large mouth with which they hunt insects, small beak and short legs.

They are adapted to live mainly in the air. Build convex mud nests, and closed unlike swallows.

It is often confused with swallows, even with swifts.

Pending image of nests

How to identify an airplane

It is recognized by the pure white rump, with the rest of black parts. The tail is short and black, forked but without extensions. The rest of the body black with a blue glow on the crown, mantle and scapulars.

His feet are covered in black feathers

Also called:

  • Cuablanca Oroneta in Catalan,
  • Northen House Martin English.

They can also be identified by their song, which we leave below.

Jens Kirkeby, XC381988. Accessible at

What do they eat

They feed on insects at all levels that they hunt while in flight. They are a great controller of pests like mosquitoes.

How to avoid dirtying your balcony

One of the problems generated by these birds is dirt. Everything that remains below their nests is filled with excrement. And for this reason they constantly see their nests destroyed.

Removing a common plane or swallow nest is a criminal offense. Do not do it. Enjoy life. if you don't want dirt they sell these trays for excrement. You can also make some homemade. You see that it is very simple. And you only have to put them from May to October. Then you can remove and clean them.

It would be very interesting if the municipalities used them to keep the streets clean

Date of sighting in Sagunto

Date when I saw the first swifts and when they leave.

YearDate of arrival
Date of departure

The 2019 sighting was early, of 2 pairs in the post street nests, but then it took several weeks for the flock to arrive.

The streets are full of nests, under the balconies. and they are seen flying inside the streets unlike the swallows that we usually see almost always in open areas.

Bibliography and references

  • Bird guide. Spain, Europe and the Mediterranean region. Lars Svensson

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