Blue swallow

The blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea) is a small bird within the swallow family which is in the order Passeriformes. Swallows are somewhat similar in habits and appearance to other aerial insectivores, such as the martins (also a passerine) and the swifts (order Apodiformes). It breeds in the Afromontane (from South Africa to Tanzania), wintering north of Lake Victoria.

This bird breeds in montane grassland, preferring high rainfall, undulating areas. In winter it prefers open grassland, with bushes and trees. The nest is usually attached to the roof or side of a hole in the ground.[2]

Blue swallow
Drawing of a blue swallow
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
H. atrocaerulea
Binomial name
Hirundo atrocaerulea
Sundevall, 1850


This species is a small swallow at 18–25 centimetres (7.1–9.8 in). The adult birds have a highly lustrous dark metallic steel-blue appearance with long tail streamers, which are particularly noticeable in males. White feathers are visible on the rump and flanks when the birds are preening and especially during courtship. In poor light, blue swallows appear almost black and therefore can be mistaken for black saw-wing swallows (Psalidoprocne spp.) which occur throughout its breeding range. Young blue swallows start life a brownish-grey, acquiring their blue colour as they mature. This species has a musical "bee-bee-bee-bee" call when in flight.[3]


Blue swallows feed on small, soft-bodied flies and other arthropods, catching them on the wing.[4]

The blue swallow arrives on the breeding range at the end of September and constructs cup-shaped nests from mud and grass on the inside of sinkhole cavities, aardvark burrows and old mine shafts. The breeding system of the blue swallow is not well understood although co-operative breeding has been widely recorded in this species. The nests are lined with fine grass, animal hair and white feathers. Normally, three white eggs are laid. They are incubated by the female for 14 days, and the chicks are fed for approximately 22 days until they fledge. Once fledged, the young spend the next couple of days around the nest site before disappearing. Most blue swallows will rear a second brood before returning to the over-wintering grounds in April.[4]


This species is classified as Vulnerable due to destruction of its habitat at both its breeding and wintering sites. The current population is estimated at 1,500-4,000 and decreasing.[1]


This article incorporates text from the ARKive fact-file "Blue swallow" under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GFDL.

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Hirundo atrocaerulea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ BirdLife Species Factsheet
  3. ^ Blue Swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea BirdLife International (May, 2005). Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  4. ^ a b Spottiswoode, C.N. (2005) Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and Martins). In: Hockey, P.A.R. and Dean W.R.J. and Ryan, P.G. (Eds) Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. Seventh Edition. John Voelker Bird Fund, Cape Town.

External links

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Atticora is a genus of bird in the swallow family Hirundinidae. These species are found in South America.

It contains the following two species:

White-banded swallow (Atticora fasciata)

Black-collared swallow (Atticora melanoleuca)

Black-and-rufous swallow

The black-and-rufous swallow (Hirundo nigrorufa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

Blue Swallow (film)

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The Blue Swallow Court in Tucumcari, New Mexico, United States, is a 12-unit L-shaped motel listed on the National Register of Historic Places in New Mexico as a part of historic U.S. Route 66. Original architectural features included a façade with pink stucco walls decorated with shell designs and a stepped parapet, on-site office and manager's residence and garages located between the sleeping units for travelers to park their motorcars.

Forest swallow

The forest swallow (Petrochelidon fuliginosa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.

Galápagos martin

The Galápagos martin (Progne modesta) is a species of bird in the Hirundinidae family, endemic to the Galápagos Islands.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, pastureland, and heavily degraded former forest.


The bird genus Hirundo is a group of passerines in the family Hirundinidae (swallows and martins). The genus name is Latin for a swallow. These are the typical swallows, including the widespread barn swallow. Many of this group have blue backs, red on the face and sometimes the rump or nape, and whitish or rufous underparts. With fifteen species this genus is the largest in its family.

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Peruvian martin

The Peruvian martin (Progne murphyi) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in Peru and far norther Chile.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, pastureland, and urban areas. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Preuss's cliff swallow

Preuss's cliff swallow (Petrochelidon preussi), also known as Preuss's swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.


The saw-wings, Psalidoprocne, is a small genus of passerine birds in the swallow family. The common name of this group is derived from the rough outer edge of the outer primary feather on the wing, which is rough due to recurved barbs. The function of this is unknown. The birds are 11–17 cm long and black or black-and-white in colour. The genus has an African distribution and all species can be found foraging over forest and woodland.

Sinaloa martin

The Sinaloa martin (Progne sinaloae) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It breeds semicolonially in sheer cliff faces within pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico. Presumed migrant records also come from Belize and Guatemala. It is assumed to winter in South America.

Southern martin

The southern martin (Progne elegans) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Argentina and southern Bolivia ; in winter it migrates to the western Amazon Basin.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and urban areas.

Tumbes swallow

The Tumbes swallow (Tachycineta stolzmanni) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in northwestern Peru and far southwestern Ecuador.

Its natural habitats are dry savanna, coastal saline lagoons, and arable land.

White-bibbed swallow

The white-bibbed swallow (Hirundo nigrita), also known as the white-throated blue swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.

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Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)


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