Greater striped swallow

The greater striped swallow (Cecropis cucullata) is a large swallow that is native to Africa south of the equator.

Greater striped swallow
Cecropis-cucullata-Drakensberg
In the Drakensberg region of South Africa
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Cecropis
Species:
C. cucullata
Binomial name
Cecropis cucullata
Boddaert, 1783
Synonyms

Hirundo cucullata

Description

The greater striped swallow is 18–20 cm long. It has dark blue upperparts with a pale orange rump and a chestnut crown, nape and sides of the head. The underparts and underwing coverts are creamy white with dark streaking, and the upper wings and underwing flight feathers are blackish-brown. The blackish tail has very long outer feathers; these are slightly longer in the male than the female. Juveniles are duller and browner, with less contrast and shorter outer tail feathers. The flight is slow and buoyant, and the call is a twittering chissick.

This species can be distinguished from the smaller lesser striped swallow, Hirundo abyssinica, in that the latter species has heavier and darker underparts striping, a deeper red rump, and rufous rather than buffy ear coverts. Lesser also prefers less open habitats.

Range

It breeds in southern Africa, mainly in South Africa, Namibia and southern Zimbabwe. It is migratory wintering further north in Angola, Tanzania and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Habits and habitat

The greater striped swallow is common, unafraid of humans, and has benefited from the availability of nest sites around habitation. It feeds mainly on flying insects, but has been known to eat small fruits. It is a bird of dry open country, such as grassland, and has a preference for hills and mountains. It avoids more wooded areas, but is often found around human habitation.

Nesting

Cecropis cucullata, nes, Preller-huis
Nest built of mud pellets

The greater striped swallow builds a bowl-shaped mud nest with a tubular entrance on the underside of a suitable structure. The nest has a soft lining, and is often reused in later years. The nest may be built in a cave or under a rock overhang or fallen tree. This species has benefited from its willingness to use buildings, bridges, culverts and similar man-made structures. Given the choice, it will select a high nest site.

The eggs are glossy white with a few brown spots; three eggs is a typical clutch. Incubation is by the female alone for 17 to 20 days to hatching. Both parents then feed the chicks. Fledging takes another 23 to 30 days, but the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after the first flight.

References

  • Sinclair, Hockey and Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa, ISBN 1-86872-721-1
  • Turner and Rose, Swallows and Martins ISBN 0-7470-3202-5

External links

Atticora

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)

Banded martin

The banded martin or banded sand martin (Riparia cincta) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It is an inhabitant of the African continent.

Black-and-rufous swallow

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

Cecropis

Cecropis is a genus of large swallows found in Africa and tropical Asia. The red-rumped swallow's range also extends into southern Europe, and (in small numbers) into Australia. This genus is frequently subsumed into the larger genus Hirundo.The swallow family consists of 74 bird species which typically hunt insects in flight. The two river martins have long been recognised as very distinctive, and are placed in a separate subfamily, Pseudochelidoninae, leaving all other swallows and martins in the Hirundininae. DNA studies suggest that there are three major groupings within the Hirundininae subfamily, broadly correlating with the type of nest built. The groups are the "core martins" including burrowing species like the sand martin, the "nest-adopters", with birds like the tree swallow which use natural cavities, and the "mud nest builders". The Cecropsis species construct a closed mud nest and therefore belong to the latter group. It is believed that the evolutionary sequence is from species that make open cup nests (Hirundo and Ptyonoprogne), through Delichon house martins with closed nests, to Cecropis and Petrochelidon, which have retort-like closed nests with an entrance tunnel.The genus Cecropis was introduced by the German zoologist Friedrich Boie in 1826. The type species was subsequently designated as the greater striped swallow. The name of the genus is from the Ancient Greek Kekropis "Athenian woman".

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.

Grey-rumped swallow

The grey-rumped swallow (Pseudhirundo griseopyga) is a species of bird in the monotypic genus, Pseudhirundo, in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Lesser striped swallow

The lesser striped swallow (Cecropis abyssinica) is a large swallow. It breeds in Sub-Saharan Africa from Sierra Leone and southern Sudan south into eastern South Africa. It is partially migratory with South African birds wintering further north. West African birds leave the north of the breeding range in the dry season.

Pearl-breasted swallow

The pearl-breasted swallow (Hirundo dimidiata) is a small swallow. It breeds in southern Africa from Angola, southern Zaire and Tanzania southwards. It is partially migratory with many birds from the south west of South Africa wintering further north.

This is a bird of dry scrub, farmland and clearings. It is often found around human habitation. The pearl-breasted swallow builds a bowl-shaped mud nest reinforced with grass or hair and with a soft lining. It sometimes uses old nests of the greater striped swallow, Hirundo cucullata.

The nest may be reused in later years, and one was utilised for 30 years. The nest is built in natural cavities or man-made structures such as buildings, culverts and shafts, but its preference for isolated and abandoned buildings means that this species has not benefited from artificial sites to the same extent as, for example, the greater or lesser striped swallows.

The two or three eggs are pure white, and are incubated by the female alone for 16–17 days to hatching. Both parents then feed the chicks. Fledging takes another 20–23 days, but the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after the first flight.

The pearl-breasted swallow is 13–14 cm long. It has glossy blue upperparts and grey-white underparts. The upper wings, underwing flight feathers and forked tail are blackish-blue. The underwing coverts are a darker shade of grey-white. The lack of white in the tail is a distinction from similar Hirundo species. The outer feathers are slightly longer in the male than the female. Juveniles are duller and browner than the adult, with shorter outer tail feathers.

The northern subspecies, H. d. marwitzi is darker and smaller than nominate H. d. dimidiata, but the differences are small, and the species may be monotypic.

The pearl-breasted swallow is sparsely distributed, but can be locally common. It feeds mainly on flying insects, with a fast direct flight. The call is a chittering chip cheree chip chip.

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.

Progne

Progne is a genus of birds. The genus name refers to Procne (Πρόκνη), a mythological girl who was turned into a swallow to save her from her husband. She had killed their son to avenge the rape of her sister.

Saw-wing

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.

Stelgidopteryx

Stelgidopteryx (Baird, 1858) is a small genus of swallows. It contains two species:

Adults of both species are brown on top with lighter underparts and a slightly forked tail. They nest in cavities but do not excavate their holes or form colonies.

These birds forage in flight over water or fields, usually flying low. They eat insects.

"Rough-winged" refers to the serrated edge feathers on the wing of this genus; this feature would only be apparent in the hand.

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.

Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)

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