Swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterized by their adaptation to aerial feeding. The Swallow is used colloquially in Europe as a synonym for the Barn Swallow. Sparrows and Swallow tattoos are often grouped as the same thing, Though they are not. Swallows were gotten by pirates when they traveled over 100,000 miles or over the equator and back, they would get one each way, often two when the journey was complete. Swallows have a symbolism of "safe travel/safe return". Also acting as a symbol of true love, swallows mate for life, Not making a difference where each of them are in the world, once a year they both meet up in the Galapagos Islands to mate amongst millions of other birds, all over the world. Sailors would tattoo one swallow for 5,000 miles, until they had their 2 swallows, after that they would do stars, often on the hands or in the ears. The crossing of the equator has little to do with the swallows. Crossiing the equator would generally be remembered with a tattoo of Neptunus Rex, or some manner of turtle. Like most sailor-esque tattoos, its a good luck token. As sailors travled by sea, swallows were seen flying above when land came closer. So a swallow in flight is a sign of land ahead or "safe return home".