Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)


French: Hirondelle striée German: Zwergrötelschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina abisinia

Hirundo abyssinica


, 1843,



Race unitatis intergrades with nominate in SE South Sudan and Kenya, and probably overlaps in range with ampliformis in S (Zambia/Zimbabwe). Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. puella (Temminck & Schlegel, 1845) – Senegambia S to Liberia E to N Cameroon; wet-season breeding visitor in N of range.
  • C. a. maxima (Bannerman, 1923) – SE Nigeria, S Cameroon and SW Central African Republic; also Bioko.
  • C. a. bannermani (C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1942) – SW Sudan, NW South Sudan and NE Central African Republic.
  • C. a. abyssinica (Guérin-Méneville, 1843) – extreme SE Sudan, SE South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • C. a. unitatis (W. L. Sclater & Mackworth-Praed, 1918) – Equatorial Guinea and Gabon E to S South Sudan, Kenya and S Somalia, S to C Angola, E Zambia, Zimbabwe, E Botswana, Mozambique and E South Africa; breeding visitor in S parts of range, resident in the rest.
  • C. a. ampliformis (Clancey, 1969) – S Angola and N Namibia E to W Zambia and NW Zimbabwe; breeding visitor in S parts of range, resident in the rest.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–19 cm; 16–27 g. Nominate race has forehead to nape, ear-coverts and neck rufous-chestnut, back glossy deep blue, rump and shorter uppertail-coverts rufous-... read more


    Vigorous song, with initial squeaky notes followed by descending nasal ones; also a wheezy “... read more


    Grassland, savanna, open woodland, forest edge and clearings, cultivation and human habitations;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes Hymenoptera (such as flying ants and bees), beetles (Coleoptera) and flies (Diptera), also lepidopterans; also eats fruit... read more


    Mainly in wet season; N of equator mainly Mar–Jul/Aug (e.g. Mar and Jul in Senegambia, from Apr in Liberia, Mar–May in Sierra... read more


    Mainly resident, with some local post-breeding movements, near equator; mainly a wet-season... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common and widespread; one of the most abundant hirundines in Africa, but sometimes only locally common. Avoids heavily forested areas, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica). 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 24 February 2020).