White-rumped swallow

The white-rumped swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. First described and given its binomial name by French ornithologist Louis Vieillot in 1817, it was for many years considered a subspecies of the Chilean swallow. The species is monotypic with no known population variations. It has a white supraloral streak, or streak above its lores (the region between a bird's eye and nostrils), which can be used to differentiate it from the Chilean swallow. The lores, ear coverts, tail, and wings are black, with white tips on the inner secondaries, tertials, and greater coverts of the wings. The rest of the upperparts are a glossy blue. Its underparts and underwing-coverts are white, in addition to the rump, as the name suggests. The sexes are similar, and the juvenile is duller and browner with a dusky breast.

This species usually builds its nest in holes in trees or dead snags or under or in artificial structures like fence posts and the eaves of buildings. The white-rumped swallow is solitary and nests in distributed pairs during the breeding season. The breeding season is from October to December in Brazil and from October to February in neighboring Argentina. Usually, only one brood with four to seven eggs is laid, although a second one will occasionally be laid. The female incubates the eggs over a period usually between 15 and 16 days, with the fledging after usually between 21 and 25 days.

This swallow is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. Its natural habitats are dry savanna, pastureland, the edge of forests, and subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland. It is classified as a least-concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its population is increasing and it may benefit from the increase in availability of artificial nest sites. The shiny cowbird is an occasional brood parasite of the white-rumped swallow.

White-rumped swallow
Tachycineta leucorrhoa
In Buenos Aires
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Tachycineta
T. leucorrhoa
Binomial name
Tachycineta leucorrhoa
(Vieillot, 1817)
White-rumped swallow map
Range of T. leucorrhoa

     Resident range      Breeding visitor      Winter visitor

Taxonomy and etymology

The white-rumped swallow was first formally described as Hirundo leucorrhoa by French ornithologist Louis Vieillot in 1817 in his Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle.[2] It was since moved to its current genus, Tachycineta, which was created in 1850 by Jean Cabanis.[3] The binomial name is derived from Ancient Greek. Tachycineta is from takhukinetos, "moving quickly", and the specific leucorrhoa is from leukos, "white", and orrhos, "rump".[4]

The species was formerly considered a subspecies of the Chilean swallow, most likely due to the similarity in morphology and calls. It is occasionally placed in the genus Iridoprocne with the tree swallow, mangrove swallow, white-winged swallow, and Chilean swallow.[5] A study of the mitochondrial DNA of Tachycineta supports the split, although studies do show that the white-rumped swallow forms a superspecies, leucorrhoa, with the Chilean swallow.[6][7] This species is monotypic, with no known subspecies.[5]

This swallow is named for its white rump but it is also sometimes called the white-browed swallow, due to its white supraloral streak.[8]


White-rumped Swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) (15958781331)
White-rumped swallow perching

The white-rumped swallow measures 13 centimetres (5.1 in) in length and weighs 17–21 grams (0.60–0.74 oz). It has an average wingspan of 115.7 millimetres (4.56 in). It has a white supraloral streak,[5] a white streak above its eye, and black lores and ear coverts. The lores and ear-coverts have a blue-green gloss. It has black wings, with white tips on its inner secondaries, tertials, and greater wing-coverts. The white tips erode with age. The tail is black and has a shallow fork. The white-rumped swallow also has, as the name implies, a white rump. The rump is not totally white; it has some fine shaft streaks. The rest of the upperparts, in addition to the crown, nape, and forehead, are a glossy blue. These features, when this bird is not breeding, are more greenish-blue. The underparts and underwing-coverts are white.[5] The bill, legs, and feet are black, and the irides are brown. The sexes are alike, and the juvenile can be distinguished by its dusky breast and the fact that it is duller and more brownish.[5][8]

This swallow is similar to the Chilean swallow but can be differentiated by the Chilean swallow's lack of a supraloral white streak.[5] The Chilean swallow also seems to keep its glossy blue upperparts when not breeding.[9] The white-rumped swallow is, in addition, larger than the Chilean swallow.[8]

The song of the white-rumped swallow is often described as a soft gurgling[5] or a broken warble. It usually sings while flying at dawn.[8] The call is described as a quick and toneless zzt.[10] The alarm note it uses is short and harsh.[8]


This swallow is native to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.[1] It inhabits open and semi-open country near water, the edge of woodland, and human settlements.[5] It also occurs in dry savannas, degraded former forest, and both subtropical and tropical seasonally flooded grassland.[1] It is additionally known to occur in the pampas of Argentina and Uruguay. During the austral winter, the birds in the southern population usually move to the northern parts of its range.[9] This bird can be found at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1,100 metres (3,600 ft).[1]


After the breeding season, the white-rumped swallow forms flocks that sometimes consist of hundreds of individuals.[5] These flocks frequently consist of both the white-rumped swallow and other species of swallows.[8]


Andorinha-de-testa-branca (Tachycineta leucorrhoa) usando um ninho abandonado de forneira (Furnarius rufus)
Using the abandoned nest of rufous hornero

The white-rumped swallow builds nests in holes or crevices in a tree or dead snag. It also builds them in artificial structures like holes in fence posts or under eaves, typically under those of abandoned buildings.[9] This swallow will sometimes reuse favourable nest sites, which has a positive effect on fledgling survival.[11] It occasionally nests in abandoned nests of the firewood-gatherer. The nests themselves are usually made of plant fibres and lined with hair and feathers. This swallow is solitary and,[5] during the breeding season, is scattered in pairs.[9] Pairs can be seen to fight and chase each other at the nest site.[8]

This swallow displays nest prospecting behaviour, visiting potential future nesting sites. Nest prospecting is a behaviour recorded in both breeding and non-breeding individuals, and occurs both after the failure or success of a nest and while the bird is actively nesting. After a nest failure, the average distance an individual travels during a prospecting visit increases dramatically, from about 121 metres (397 ft) to about 5,119 metres (16,795 ft). Nest prospecting seems to occur more frequently in individuals with a smaller clutch size. Male visits to other nests could be to care for extra-pair young, although it does not explain female visits.[12] Extra-pair young, or young with parents outside of the breeding pair, account for about 56 percent of all offspring.[13]

The breeding season of the white-rumped swallow is from October to December in Brazil, and from October to February in Argentina.[5] During this period, one brood is usually laid, although it will occasionally lay a second brood.[14] On average, 58 percent of nests will fledge at least one chick.[5]

The clutch is usually four to seven eggs that transition from pinkish-white when laid to pure white. The eggs measure 19.6 by 13.7 millimetres (0.77 in × 0.54 in) and weigh 1.9 grams (0.067 oz) on average.[8] Clutch size and egg size are noted to usually decrease as the breeding season progresses. Late-season nestlings also weigh less than early-season nestlings.[14] It takes 15 to 16 days for the female to incubate the clutch.[5] About 58 percent of the broods hatch synchronously, although the hatching sometimes lasts over four days.[14] On average, 78 percent of the eggs will hatch. The fledging period is 21 to 25 days, with about 95 percent of the nestlings fledging.[5] The white-rumped swallow, on average, lives for 2.12 years. The male lives slightly longer than the female.[15]


Andorinha-de-testa-branca (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)
Juveniles being fed by adult in flight

The white-rumped swallow is an aerial insectivore that usually feeds alone or in small groups, feeding on flies, beetles, flying ants, Orthoptera, and Lepidoptera. It usually feeds close over water, pastures, and open woodland. Occasionally skimming the ground, its flight is fast and direct. It follows humans and other animals,[5] and can usually be seen near humans and animals that are disturbing insects.[8]


The shiny cowbird is a brood parasite that occasionally lays its eggs in the nest of white-rumped swallow. After a shiny cowbird fledges, it exhibits behaviour that causes it to be fed more, much to the detriment of white-rumped swallow nestlings. About six percent of nests are affected by this.[16] This swallow has been known to lose nests to the southern house wren, a subspecies of the house wren.[5]

Conservation status

The white-rumped swallow is classified as a least-concern species by the IUCN. This is due to its large range, estimated to be 5,580,000 square kilometres (2,150,000 sq mi), its increase in population, and its large population.[1] Increase in the availability of artificial nest sites may benefit this bird,[5] and could be a factor in its increasing population.[1] It is described as being fairly common in its range.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f BirdLife International (2016). "Tachycineta leucorrhoa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22712068A94317424. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22712068A94317424.en. Retrieved 1 May 2017.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1817). Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle, nouvelle édition (in French). 14. p. 519.
  3. ^ Cabanis, Jean (1850). Museum Heineanum : Verzeichniss der ornithologischen Sammlung des Oberamtmann Ferdinand Heine auf Gut St. Burchard vor Halberstatdt (in German). 1. Independently commissioned by R. Frantz. p. 48.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. Christopher Helm. pp. 225, 377. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Turner, Angela (2017). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A.; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "White-rumped Swallow (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  6. ^ Whittingham, Linda A.; Slikas, Beth; Winkler, David W.; Sheldon, Frederick H. (2002). "Phylogeny of the tree swallow genus, Tachycineta (Aves: Hirundinidae), by Bayesian analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 22 (3): 430–441. doi:10.1006/mpev.2001.1073. PMID 11884168.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Dor, Roi; Carling, Matthew D.; Lovette, Irby J.; Sheldon, Frederick H.; Winkler, David W. (2012). "Species trees for the tree swallows (Genus Tachycineta): An alternative phylogenetic hypothesis to the mitochondrial gene tree". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 65 (1): 317–322. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.06.020. PMID 22750631.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Turner, Angela; Rose, Chris (June 30, 2010). A Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-1-4081-3172-5.
  9. ^ a b c d Ridgely, Robert S.; Guy, Tudor (1989). The Birds of South America: Volume 1: The Oscine Passerines. University of Texas Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-292-70756-6.
  10. ^ Perlo, Ber van (October 9, 2009). A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-974565-4.
  11. ^ Miño, Carolina Isabel; Massoni, Viviana (2017). "Sexual differences in the effect of previous breeding performance on nest-box reuse and mate retention in white-rumped swallows (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)". Emu. 117 (2): 130–140. doi:10.1080/01584197.2017.1282827.
  12. ^ Wischhoff, Uschi; Marques-Santos, Fernando; Ardia, Daniel R.; Roper, James J. (2015). "White-rumped swallows prospect while they are actively nesting". Journal of Ethology. 33 (2): 145–150. doi:10.1007/s10164-015-0425-9. ISSN 0289-0771.
  13. ^ Ferretti, V.; Massoni, V.; Bulit, F.; Winkler, D. W.; Lovette, I. J. (2011). "Heterozygosity and fitness benefits of extrapair mate choice in White-rumped Swallows (Tachycineta leucorrhoa)". Behavioral Ecology. 22 (6): 1178–1186. doi:10.1093/beheco/arr103. ISSN 1045-2249.
  14. ^ a b c Massoni, Viviana; Bulit, Florencia; Reboreda, Juan Carlos (2006). "Breeding biology of the White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina". Ibis. 149 (1): 10–17. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2006.00589.x. ISSN 0019-1019.
  15. ^ Bulit, Florencia; Massoni, Viviana (2011). "Apparent survival and return rate of breeders in the southern temperate White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa". Ibis. 153 (1): 190–194. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2010.01079.x. ISSN 0019-1019.
  16. ^ Massoni, Viviana; Winkler, David W.; Reboreda, Juan C. (2006). "Brood parasitism of White-rumped Swallows by Shiny Cowbirds". Journal of Field Ornithology. 77 (1): 80–84. doi:10.1111/j.1557-9263.2006.00027.x. ISSN 0273-8570.

External links


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.

Chilean swallow

The Chilean swallow (Tachycineta leucopyga) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It breeds in Chile and Patagonia, migrating north as far as Bolivia, Paraguay, and Rio Grande do Sul.

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.

Mangrove swallow

The mangrove swallow (Tachycineta albilinea) is a passerine bird in the swallow family that breeds in coastal regions from Mexico through Central America to Panama. It has blue-green upperparts, blackish flight feathers, a white rump, a black tail, and white underparts. It can be identified by the supraloral white streak, the white line near its eye, which only occurs in two other species of Tachycineta: the violet-green swallow and the white-rumped swallow. The sexes, although similar in plumage, differ slightly in size. The juveniles have grey-brown upperparts and white-washed underparts. This swallow's song is generally described as a soft trilling, with a rolled jeerrt call, and a sharp alarm note.

The mangrove swallow is very territorial when breeding, much like the related tree swallow. Its nest is normally built in a hole or crevice near water and less than 2 metres (7 ft) above the ground. This species usually feeds alone when breeding, but will feed in groups when not. It normally forages closer to the nest when hunting for its chicks, but will go much further when foraging for itself. In between foraging attempts, it is frequently seen perching near water. It is an aerial insectivore and eats unusually large prey for its size.

With an estimated population of at least 500,000 individuals, the mangrove swallow is classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Its numbers are decreasing, although not fast enough for it to be classified as vulnerable. Little is known about the predation of this species, although it is a host of Sternostoma hirundinis, a type of nasal mite. It has also been known to lose nests both to termites and black flies.

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.


Tachycineta (Greek: tachýs "fast", kīnéō "move") is a genus of birds in the swallow family. There are nine described species. Its members are restricted to the Americas.

These are slender swallows with forked tails. Most species have a metallic green back, green or blue head, and metallic blue or unglossed brown wings. All have pure white underparts, and four species have a white rump.

Most Tachycineta swallows are at least partially migratory, with only golden and mangrove swallow being essentially resident. All the species use natural or disused cavities for nest sites.

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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