Wire-tailed Swallow

Hirundo smithii

Named for the two elongated, very thin tail feathers that trails behind it like antennae, the Wire-tailed Swallow is a beautiful bird that occurs over much of Africa and South Asia. Unlike many of their kin, Wire-tailed Swallows are mostly resident in their African home range year-round and do not migrate seasonally. In South Africa they’re to be found across northern Kwazulu-Natal, the Lowveld and Limpopo valley.

Wire-tailed Swallows are always to be found over or near fresh water bodies of any description, seemingly being less concerned with the habitat that surrounds these dams, rivers, streams and floodplains. They feed almost exclusively on insects caught in flight, and often mingle with other kinds of swallows in mixed flocks.

Wire-tailed Swallows breed throughout the year, peaking in spring and autumn. Pairs remain monogamous throughout the breeding season and possibly life-long. Their nests are cups of mud constructed in natural or man-made shelters like under overhanging rocks or under bridges, and usually used repeatedly season after season, being repaired annually before the clutch of 2-4 eggs are laid. The female takes responsibility for incubation over a 2-3 week period, but both parents feed the chicks once they’ve hatched. The chicks fledge when they’re about 3 weeks old but remain with their parents, and usually roost at the nest, for a considerable length of time – even till the next clutch of eggs are laid.

The IUCN considers the Wire-tailed Swallow to be of least concern.


24 thoughts on “Wire-tailed Swallow

  1. Anne

    These are lovely photos of the swallows at rest. At home, the white-rumped swifts are already trying to take over the mud nest-under-construction of the lesser-striped swallows.

    Liked by 1 person


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