Petrochelidon is a genus of birds known as cliff-nesting swallows. The genus name Petrochelidon is from the Ancient Greek words petros, "rock", and khelidon, "swallow".[1]

The genus includes all of the five species of birds commonly called cliff swallow, and contains the following species:

Cliff Swallow Builder
An American cliff swallow starting to build a mud nest under the eaves of a building in California
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Petrochelidon
Cabanis, 1850

10, See text

Species in taxonomic order


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 300. ISBN 1408125013.

External links

African swallow

Although a well-known plot point in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the term "African swallow" is highly ambiguous; there are many African birds in the swallow family and called "swallow", none of which can carry a coconut (and especially not a moose):

Genus Cecropis, mud-nest building swallows:

Lesser striped swallow, Cecropis abyssinica

Greater striped swallow, Cecropis cucullata

Red-rumped swallow, Cecropis daurica (range extends beyond Africa)

West African swallow, Cecropis domicella

Red-breasted swallow, Cecropis semirufa

Mosque swallow, Cecropis senegalensis

Genus Hirundo open-cup nesting swallows:

Ethiopian swallow, Hirundo aethiopica

White-throated swallow, Hirundo albigularis

Angolan swallow, Hirundo angolensis

Blue swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea

Pearl-breasted swallow, Hirundo dimidiata

Pied-winged swallow, Hirundo leucosoma

Red-chested swallow, Hirundo lucida

White-tailed swallow, Hirundo megaensis

white-bibbed swallow, Hirundo nigrita

Black-and-rufous swallow, Hirundo nigrorufa

Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica (range extends beyond Africa, this is also the European swallow)

Wire-tailed swallow, Hirundo smithii smithii

Genus Petrochelidon, cliff nesting swallows:

Forest swallow, Petrochelidon fuliginosa

Preuss's cliff swallow, Petrochelidon preussi

Red-throated cliff swallow, Petrochelidon rufigula

South African cliff swallow, Petrochelidon spilodera

Genus Pseudhirundo:

Grey-rumped swallow, Pseudhirundo griseopygaThere are many other African birds in the swallow family Hirundinidae, but not called swallows, such as the Saw-wings (genus Psalidoprocne, also called rough-winged swallows), and numerous martins, such as the African river martin (Pseudochelidon eurystomina).

American cliff swallow

The American cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) is a member of the passerine bird family Hirundinidae, the swallows and martins. The scientific name is derived from Ancient Greek; Petrochelidon originates from the petros meaning "rock" and khelidon "swallow", pyrrhonota comes from purrhos meaning "flame-coloured" and -notos "-backed".American cliff swallows are extremely social song birds that can be found in large nesting colonies reaching over 2,000 nests. They are frequently seen flying overhead in large flocks during migration, gracefully foraging over fields for flying insects or perching tightly together on a wire preening under the sun.Cliff swallows build gourd-shaped nests made from mud with small entrance holes. They build their nests tightly together, on top of one another, under bridges or alongside mountain cliffs. Living in large populations, these aerial insectivores use extensive vocalizations to communicate warnings or food availability to the other individuals.

Andean swallow

The Andean swallow (Haplochelidon andecola) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is monotypic within the genus Haplochelidon.

It is found in the Altiplano of Peru, Bolivia and far northern Chile and Argentina. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland and subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland.


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)

Cave swallow

The cave swallow (Petrochelidon fulva) is a medium-sized, squarish tailed swallow belonging to the same genus as the more familiar and widespread cliff swallow of North America. The cave swallow, also native to the Americas, nests and roosts primarily in caves and sinkholes.

Cave swallows are found in Mexico and the Greater Antilles, with fall and winter vagrants reaching the east and Gulf Coasts of the U.S. Breeding colonies occur in south-eastern New Mexico, Texas, Florida, the Greater Antilles, portions of southern Mexico, and along the west coast of South America. Five subspecies are currently recognized according to Birds of North America, three occurring in North America and two in South America.


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".

Chestnut-collared swallow

The chestnut-collared swallow (Petrochelidon rufocollaris) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in Ecuador and Peru. Its natural habitats are pastureland and heavily degraded former forest.

Dusky crag martin

The dusky crag martin (Ptyonoprogne concolor) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It is about 13 cm (5 in) long with a broad body and wings, and a short square tail that has small white patches near the tips of most of its feathers. This martin has sooty-brown upperparts and slightly paler underparts. The two subspecies are resident breeding birds in South Asia from the Indian subcontinent to southwestern China and the northern parts of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

This martin nests under a cliff overhang or on a man-made structure, building a neat half-cup mud nest with a soft lining. Both adults incubate the two to four eggs and feed the chicks. This species does not form large breeding colonies, but it is more gregarious outside the breeding season. It feeds a wide variety of insects that are caught as the martin flies near to cliff faces. It may be hunted by large bats as well as birds of prey, but its extensive and expanding range and large population mean that there are no significant conservation concerns.

Fairy martin

The fairy martin (Petrochelidon ariel) is a member of the swallow family of passerine birds which breeds in Australia. It is migratory wintering through most of Australia, with some birds reaching New Guinea and Indonesia. It is increasingly a wanderer to New Zealand, where it may have bred. This species is frequently placed in the genus Hirundo as Hirundo ariel. It is [[monotypic]]

This is a bird of open country near water, and is usually seen near its nest sites in cliffs, culverts or bridges.

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.


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.

Oeciacus vicarius

Oeciacus vicarius, known generally as the American swallow bug or cliff swallow bug, is a species of bed bug in the family Cimicidae. It is found in North America. The bug is a blood-feeding ectoparasite of the colonially nesting American cliff swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) and vector of Buggy Creek Virus (family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus).

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.

Red-throated cliff swallow

The red-throated cliff swallow (Petrochelidon rufigula), also known as the red-throated swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in Angola, Republic of the Congo, DRC, Gabon, and Zambia.

Red Sea cliff swallow

The Red Sea cliff swallow (Petrochelidon perdita), also known as the Red Sea swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

South African cliff swallow

The South African cliff swallow (Petrochelidon spilodera), also known as the South African swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae native to central−western and southern Africa.

It is found in Botswana, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Nests are commonly built from mud under artificial structures such as huts and bridges.

Streak-throated swallow

The streak-throated swallow or the Indian cliff swallow (Petrochelidon fluvicola) is a species of swallow found as Native (breeder, year-round resident or winter visitor) in South Asia in the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It occurs as a Vagrant in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and the Middle-east.


The swallows, martins and saw-wings, or Hirundinidae, are a family of passerine birds found around the world on all continents, including occasionally in Antarctica. Highly adapted to aerial feeding, they have a distinctive appearance. The term Swallow is used colloquially in Europe as a synonym for the barn swallow. There are around 90 species of Hirundinidae, divided into 19 genera, with the greatest diversity found in Africa, which is also thought to be where they evolved as hole-nesters. They also occur on a number of oceanic islands. A number of European and North American species are long-distance migrants; by contrast, the West and South African swallows are non-migratory.

This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows, martins and saw-wings). Within the Old World, the name martin tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name swallow for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups. Within the New World, "martin" is reserved for members of the genus Progne. (These two systems are responsible for the sand martin being called "bank swallow" in the New World.)

Tree martin

The tree martin (Petrochelidon nigricans) is a member of the swallow family of passerine birds. It breeds in Australia, mostly south of latitude 20°S and on Timor island. It is migratory, wintering through most of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia east of the Wallace Line and the Solomon Islands. It is a vagrant to New Zealand, where it has bred, and New Caledonia. This species is frequently placed in the genus Hirundo as Hirundo nigricans.

This is a bird of open woodland, preferably with large trees to provide nest holes. It is increasingly common in urban and suburban areas.

Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)


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