Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

House Swallow (Hirundo javanica)


French: Hirondelle de Java German: Südseeschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina del Pacífico

Hirundo javanica


, 1789,



Hitherto treated as conspecific with H. tahitica (which see). Sometimes treated as conspecific with H. neoxena, but differs morphologically (especially in bill size, and in tail structure and markings). Occasionally split into E “subfusca group” (with ambiens) and paler W “javanica group” but this is inappropriate, as variation is clinal. Split of form domicola, because “smaller with a relatively long tail and greener gloss above” and “calls noticeably higher, thinner and clearer”#R, now widely accepted, but size (except bill) and tail not different and voice indistinguishable in available recordings; thus, differs in its green vs blue gloss (1), smaller bill (effect size vs javanica −4.16, score 2), and various nesting parameters#R (not scored). Race frontalis not well differentiated, has been thought also to include individuals from Wallacea, but they probably belong with javanica. Birds from Philippines and Borneo (and occasionally those W to Malay Peninsula and S to Sumatra) sometimes separated as race abbotti (with which mallopega from N Philippines synonymized), but they intergrade with javanica, and are generally indistinguishable from it. Seven subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. j. domicola Jerdon, 1841 – #RHill Swallow – S India and Sri Lanka.
  • H. j. javanica Sparrman, 1789 – House Swallow – Andaman Is, and from coastal Myanmar, S Thailand, S Cambodia and Cochinchina S to Sundas and Wallacea and E to Philippines.
  • H. j. namiyei (Stejneger, 1887) – Ryukyu Is (Nansei-shoto) and Taiwan.
  • H. j. frontalis Quoy & Gaimard, 1830 – N & W New Guinea.
  • H. j. albescens Schodde & Mason, 1999 – S & E New Guinea.
  • H. j. ambiens Mayr, 1934 – New Britain, in Bismarck Archipelago.
  • H. j. subfusca Gould, 1856 – New Ireland E through Solomons, New Caledonia and Vanuatu to Fiji and Tonga.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 11–15·5 g (nominate), 14·6–19 g (subfusca). Adult has lores and rear of face black, rest of face and forecrown rufous-chestnut, and rest of cap and... read more


    Very vocal in flight, especially when foraging in groups, producing a “pseeep”, various chirping... read more


    Sea coasts including mangroves, open country, forested hills, and human habitations, especially... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet in Malaysia 60% Hymenoptera (mainly flying ants and Apocrita), also flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and termites (Isoptera);... read more


    Eggs Nov–May in India, mainly Feb–Apr in Sri Lanka and Feb–Mar in W Ghats; Mar–May in Myanmar, Jan–Aug in Malay Peninsula (mainly Feb to... read more


    Mainly resident, with more than 90% of > 950 controls of birds at roosts in Peninsular Malaysia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common, though typically rather local. Common in SE Asia and in Philippines, and appears to be expanding its range in Tonga... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). House Swallow (Hirundo javanica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 May 2019).