Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Red-chested Swallow (Hirundo lucida)


French: Hirondelle de Guinée German: Singschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina guineana

Hirundo lucida


, 1858,

Casamance River, Senegal


Has been considered conspecific with H. rustica and H. angolensis; closely related also to H. aethiopica#R#R. Distribution unusual, suggesting distinctive ecological niches for each race; research needed to check whether one or more may be more divergent than morphological evidence suggests. Paler birds from N part of nominate range often separated as race clara, but variation probably clinal. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. l. lucida Hartlaub, 1858 – Senegal and extreme S Mauritania E to SW Niger, S to W Sierra Leone, Liberia, N Togo and Benin.
  • H. l. rothschildi Neumann, 1904 – Ethiopian highlands.
  • H. l. subalaris Reichenow, 1905 – R Congo.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 12–14 g. Has forehead rufous-chestnut, crown and upperparts glossy steel-blue; wings and tail black, tail moderately forked, large white patches on inner webs of... read more


    Song is a weak, but clear and loud, twittering.


    Open country, grassland, savanna, marshes, rivers and lakes, forest clearings and human habitations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes termites (Isoptera). Feeds alone, in pairs or in small groups, sometimes flocks of 40 or more individuals, often with other... read more


    Mar–Jul and Dec in Senegal, Mar–Jun in Gambia, Jul–Aug in Mauritania, Aug–Sept in Mali, Sept–Oct in Niger,... read more


    Mainly resident. Movements occur in some parts of W Africa, e.g. in C Ghana, and S Benin in the... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally common, sometimes abundant. Readily uses bridges for nesting, and population may be increasing as a result.

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Red-chested Swallow (Hirundo lucida). 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 25 February 2020).