Tag Archives: Cecropis abyssinica

Lesser Striped Swallow

Cecropis abyssinica

One of the most abundant swallows in Africa, the Lesser Striped Swallow visits most of South Africa during our warmer months (though some birds remain year-round in the warmer Lowveld and northern reaches of Kwazulu-Natal). The majority of the local population arrives from July and August and head back northwards between February and May.

The Lesser Striped Swallow is a bird of mesic woodlands and savannas, often being seen close to open water, but have adapted to cultivated land and thrives in urbanised environments. Insects and other invertebrates, caught on the wing, make up the majority of their food intake though they will also settle on branches to feed on seeds and small berries on occasion.

Lesser Striped Swallows construct bowl-shaped nests of mud under rock overhangs, horizontal branches, culverts, bridges and the eaves of roofs. These nests are often used for several consecutive years, and not always by the same pair of birds. Pairs are monogamous. Their breeding season stretch over several months from early spring to autumn. Clutches of 2-4 eggs are incubated by the female for 3 weeks. While the hatchlings start flying when they’re less than 3 weeks old, they still remain dependent on their parents for the shelter of their nest and food for about a month after taking to the air for the first time.

Although it is only a summer visitor to most of South Africa, where it can be commonly seen in all provinces with the exception of the Free State, Western and Northern Cape, the Lesser Striped Swallow has a wide distribution over most of Sub-Saharan Africa and is considered to be of least concern by the IUCN, which also states that their populations are growing.

Lesser Striped Swallows often occur alongside the Greater Striped Swallow with which it can easily be confused.