Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-chested Swallow (Cecropis semirufa)


French: Hirondelle à ventre roux German: Rostbrust-Rötelschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina pechirrufa
Other common names: Red-breasted Swallow

Hirundo semirufa


, 1850,

Magaliesburg, Transvaal, South Africa


DNA data#R suggest races probably represent two separate species; further research needed. Individuals in S part of range of gordoni proposed as separate race, neumanni; this requires further investigation. Nominate race varies clinally in tail length in SW, longest in S; proposal for recognition of a further race here#R not acceptable on morphological grounds alone#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. s. gordoni (Jardine, 1852) – #RSenegambia and Sierra Leone E to CW Sudan, S South Sudan, Uganda, SW Kenya, extreme NW & N Tanzania and Rwanda, S to N Angola and C DRCongo; breeding visitor in N parts of range.
  • C. s. semirufa (Sundevall, 1850) – SW, C & E Angola, and from S DRCongo, Zambia and W Malawi S to N Namibia, N & E Botswana, NE South Africa and Swaziland; breeding visitor in S parts of range.
  • Descriptive notes

    24 cm; 25–40 g. Has glossy blue-black crown and upperparts, rufous neck side, rump and underparts; wings and tail blue-black, elongated outer tail feathers forming long... read more


    Song is a soft gurgling; also a plaintive “seeur”, a short “chip” and an alarm call “weet-weet”.


    Open country, mostly to 1500 m. Grassland, savanna, scrub, woodland clearings, farmland, human... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes hymenopterans (flying ants), flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera). Forages in pairs or small groups; large numbers will... read more


    In rains in W Africa, e.g. Apr–Aug in Liberia, Apr–Sept in Nigeria, Mar–Jul in Cameroon; Apr–Jul and Oct–Dec... read more


    Resident near equator; breeding visitor in N & S of range, migrating mainly to tropical areas.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Varies from uncommon to locally common. Recent expansion to S & E, especially in South Africa, perhaps linked to road construction, with bridges... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Rufous-chested Swallow (Cecropis semirufa). 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 20 February 2020).