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A photo of a Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)
Lesser Striped Swallow

Lesser Striped Swallow

Cecropis abyssinica


The lesser striped swallow is a denizen of wooded, primarily lowland areas. It shows a preference for less open environments and is commonly found in proximity to human settlements.


This swallow measures between 15 to 19 cm in length. It boasts dark blue upperparts, a striking red rump, and a rufous-chestnut crown, nape, and sides of the head. The underparts are white, adorned with dark streaking. The wings are blackish-brown, with tawny underwing coverts. The tail is blackish with elongated outer feathers, which are marginally longer in males. Juvenile birds present a duller brown plumage with less contrast and shorter tail feathers.

Identification Tips

Look for the heavy streaking on the underparts, the rufous ear coverts, and the deep red rump to distinguish the lesser striped swallow from its relatives. These features are more pronounced than those of the greater striped swallow.


The lesser striped swallow breeds across Sub-Saharan Africa, from Sierra Leone and southern Sudan down to eastern South Africa. It exhibits partial migratory behavior, with South African populations moving north during the winter, and West African birds vacating the northern part of their range in the dry season.


This species is known for its erratic flight as it hunts for flying insects, although it occasionally consumes small fruits. Its call is a distinctive nasal "zeh zeh zeh zeh zeh."


The lesser striped swallow constructs a bowl-shaped mud nest with a tubular entrance, often on the underside of a structure such as a building, bridge, or culvert. The nest, which may be reused in subsequent years, is lined with soft materials for comfort. The species tends to select elevated sites for nesting. Typically, a clutch comprises three glossy white eggs, sometimes speckled with brown. Incubation is carried out by the female for 14 to 16 days, followed by both parents feeding the chicks. Fledging occurs after another 17 to 19 days, though the young may return to the nest to roost for a short period post-flight.

Similar Species

The greater striped swallow is similar in appearance but can be differentiated by its larger size, lighter head color, and less extensive underpart streaking.

Diet and Feeding

The lesser striped swallow primarily feeds on flying insects, supplementing its diet occasionally with small fruits.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the lesser striped swallow as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face any significant threats to its survival.

Lesser Striped Swallow Sounds

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