Tawny-headed swallow

The tawny-headed swallow (Alopochelidon fucata) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is monotypic within the genus Alopochelidon. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Falkland Islands, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, where its natural habitats are dry savanna and subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland.

Tawny-headed swallow
Andorinha-morena (Alopochelidon fucata)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Alopochelidon
Ridgway, 1903
A. fucata
Binomial name
Alopochelidon fucata
(Temminck, 1822)

Taxonomy and etymology

This swallow was originally described as Hirundo fucata by Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1822. The current genus, Alopochelidon, was created in 1903 by Robert Ridgway.[2]

Although no subspecies of the tawny-headed swallow have been defined, it is known that, in general, the tawny-headed swallow differs slightly depending on where it occurs. A tawny-headed swallow that occurs in the southern part of its range will usually have a duskier cap, less distinct margins of the crown feathers, and will usually be slightly larger than those of northern populations. Although this is true, birds from both the northern and southern portion of its range overlap in size and characteristics. This fact means that there are most likely no subspecies. This swallow is also monotypic within its genus, Alopochelidon.[3][4]


This swallow is relatively small, usually measuring 12 centimetres (4.7 in) and weighing 13–15 grams (0.46–0.53 oz). It has a black bill that usually measures 6.6–8.1 millimetres (0.26–0.32 in). It has a mostly brownish-black crown, with tawny-rufous edges. It also has a tawny-rufous coloured forehead, eyebrow, and hindcrown, which transition into its cinnamon-buff ear coverts, sides of the head, throat, and breast. It has dark brown lores and brown irides. The rest of the upperparts are a gray-brown, with a paler rump. The wings and almost square tail are dark brown, and the underparts are a dull white with pale gray-brown sides. The juvenile can be differentiated by the fact that its head is more buff and less rufous and its feathers are tinged buff rather than rufous.[2][4]

The tawny-headed swallow makes use of a flight call described as a soft trilled treeeeb.[2]


This swallow is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela and vagrant to Chile and the Falkland Islands.[1] The tawny-headed swallow is split up into 2 resident populations, one in southeast Venezuela, and the other in central and southern Brazil, eastern Bolivia, all of Paraguay except the Northwest portion of it, and northeast Argentina. It also occurs in Uruguay and part of central Argentina as a resident during the breeding season. It is not known where this population migrates, although there have been sightings of non-breeding tawny-headed swallows in eastern Colombia and southeastern Peru. This swallow can be found in open and mostly open tropical and subtropical areas, especially near small bodies of water, forest clearings near streams, and in pampas. It can also be found in wet or flooded areas of open grassland.[5][6] It usually resides at altitudes up to 1,600 metres (5,200 ft).[2][4]



The nest of the tawny-headed swallow is cup-shaped and made of leaves, feathers, and straw. It usually measures 20–50 centimetres (7.9–20 in) in length and 7–10 centimetres (2.8–3.9 in) in width. The nest usually has a diameter of around 5–6 centimetres (2.0–2.4 in), a depth of 0.5–3 centimetres (0.20–1.18 in), and a height of 5–6 centimetres (2.0–2.4 in). The nest is constructed by both the male and female, usually over a period of 10 or 12 days. The nest can be found in hidden holes along rivers, streams, and ditches.[2] The holes are usually at least 1 metre (3.3 ft) deep, with a compartment at the end, where the nest is placed. Further research is required to determine whether this bird digs its own burrow or whether it steals tunnels from other species.[2] The tawny-headed swallow usually nests in pairs or loose groups.[4]

The breeding season of the northern population is suspected to occur during May and June, although it is not particularly well-known. The southern population's breeding season occurs from September to November. Other than this information, nothing is known about when its breeding season occurs.[2][4]

The tawny-headed swallow, in Argentina, at least, has a clutch of four to five white eggs. The eggs measure 17–19 by 12–13.9 millimetres (0.67 in–0.75 in × 0.47 in–0.55 in) and weigh, on average, 1.5 grams (0.053 oz).[2][4]


This swallow subsists on a diet of insects, primarily beetles, flies, and hymenopterans. It usually forages in pairs and small groups, although larger groups, up to 100 individuals, have been recorded when not in the breeding season. Although it is usually not seen with other swallows, it has been seen with wintering barn swallows.[2][4]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Alopochelidon fucata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Orzechowski, Sophia (2010). T. S. Schulenberg (ed.). "Tawny-headed Swallow (Alopochelidon fucata), Neotropical Birds Online". Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "ITIS Report: Alopochelidon". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Angela Turner; Chris Rose (June 30, 2010). A Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 89–91. ISBN 978-1-4081-3172-5. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "Alopochelidon fucata: Classifications". BirdLife International. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  6. ^ Robert S. Ridgely; Tudor Guy (1989). The Birds of South America: Volume 1: The Oscine Passerines. University of Texas Press. pp. 61–62. ISBN 978-0-292-70756-6. Retrieved January 8, 2017.

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.

Ethiopian swallow

The Ethiopian swallow (Hirundo aethiopica) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. Although it is non-migratory, its range is wide, extending from Benin to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda.

Fanti saw-wing

The Fanti saw-wing (Psalidoprocne obscura), also known as the Fanti rough-winged swallow, is a small passerine bird in the swallow family.

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.

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 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.


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 (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.

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.

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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