White-throated Swallow

Hirundo albigularis

White-throated Swallows migrate in large flocks of up to 1000 birds to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana between July and September, in time for the breeding season, departing again for Angola, Zambia and the southern DRC around April and May. They are closely associated with rivers and open water, especially in grasslands, fynbos and mountainous areas, and feed primarily on insects caught in flight. Adults grow to a length of 15cm and weigh around 25g.

White-throated Swallows breed in our southern climes between August and March (peak between October and December). Pairs are monogamous and can raise multiple broods in a season, often returning year after year to the same nest. Their nests are small mud-cups lined with grass, fur and feathers, built against vertical surfaces (both natural and man-made) and often placed under overhanging rocks, bridges or roofs. Clutches of between 2 and 5 eggs are incubated for a little over 2 weeks, with the hatchlings fledging by about 3-4 weeks old and becoming independent about two weeks after that.

Being common with an apparently increasing population, the White-throated Swallow is listed as being of  least concern by the IUCN. During their breeding season they can be found in every South African province, being absent only from the driest parts of the arid Northern Cape.

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26 thoughts on “White-throated Swallow

  1. kim blades, writer

    Hi guys. What a handsome bird. I have seen swallows in flight but never stationary and close up enough to see its markings, so I don’t know whether I have actually seen one of these. Wonderful photos as usual!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Kim! Being seen mostly on the wing, I also don’t have images of most of South Africa’s rich diversity of swifts and swallows. But we’ll keep striving to!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Not at all, Beth. Isn’t it incredible that they travel all that distance, twice a year, and to such great timing!? There’s so much about the natural world we don’t know and cannot comprehend. Even our own impact on it.

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      1. Beth

        Do you remember when we heard much about the Monarch butterfly migrations, and now we hear almost nothing? Texas was one state that was blessed to be in their northern flight pattern, but someone on the path just “had to cut a certain plant” to make way for progress. I can’t tell you more…

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