Tag Archives: Greater Striped Swallow

Greater Striped Swallow

Cecropis cucullata

One of our most familiar swallows, often found in close association with human habitation, is the Greater Striped Swallow. They prefer open, undulating and mountainous habitats, often near open water, where they hawk the flying insects that form their staple diet.

Greater Striped Swallows breed from early spring to deep in autumn and build mud-nests beneath overhanging rocks and toppled trees, but they have adapted well to using the underside of roofs and bridges for the purpose (see photos). Usually clutches consist of 3 eggs, incubated by the female alone for 3 weeks though both parents feed the chicks once hatched. The chicks start flying when they’re a month old but will return to the safety of the nest for a few days afterwards still. Adults measure about 18cm long and weigh around 25g.

Greater Striped Swallows are to be seen seasonally in most of Africa south of the equator, “wintering” in the DRC, Angola and Tanzania and moving southwards to breed in southern Africa from August to March – during summer they occur in virtually every corner of South Africa.  The IUCN considers it to be of least concern.

 

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Squatters at the lodgings

From the moment we arrived at chalet 27 in Thendele Camp in the Royal Natal National Park in December, we just loved the unit’s setting. And we were not the only ones, as a pair of Greater Striped Swallows were diligently building their mud-walled nest on the veranda, quite unconcerned about the humans sitting below them and watching them go about the task.