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A photo of a White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)
White-throated Swallow

White-throated Swallow

Hirundo albigularis

The White-throated Swallow, Hirundo albigularis, is a small, vibrant bird with glossy dark blue upperparts and a striking chestnut crown. Its white throat is set apart by a dark blue-black breast band, leading to greyish white underparts and underwing coverts. The wings and forked tail are blackish-blue, while the undertail boasts white patches near the tips of the feathers. Males can be distinguished by slightly longer outer feathers than females. Juveniles present a duller appearance with a browner crown and shorter outer tail feathers.

Identification Tips

To identify the White-throated Swallow, look for the distinctive white throat and blackish breast band, which set it apart from similar species within the Hirundo genus. The bright chestnut crown and glossy dark blue upperparts are also key characteristics to observe.

Habitat

This swallow favors open country and grasslands, often found in highlands and near water bodies. It is also commonly seen around man-made structures, taking advantage of the nesting opportunities they provide.

Distribution

The species breeds in southern Africa, from Angola and Zambia down to the Cape in South Africa. It is migratory, spending winters in Angola, Zambia, and southern Zaire.

Behaviour

The White-throated Swallow exhibits a fast, twisting flight pattern as it pursues flying insects, which constitute its primary diet.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of this species are a delightful mix of warbles and twitters, adding a melodic presence to its habitat.

Breeding

Nests are bowl-shaped, constructed from mud with a soft lining of grass or hair, typically situated near or over water on ledges under overhangs, on rock faces, or on man-made structures. The female incubates a clutch of three white eggs, adorned with brown and blue blotches, for 15–16 days. Post-hatching, both parents feed the chicks, which fledge after 20–21 days, though they may return to the nest to roost for a short period.

Similar Species

While similar to other Hirundo species, the White-throated Swallow can be differentiated by its unique throat and breast band coloration, as well as its chestnut crown.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists mainly of flying insects, which the swallow captures in flight with agility and precision.

Conservation status

The White-throated Swallow is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population. The species has adapted well to human-altered landscapes, utilizing structures such as bridges and dams for nesting.

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