Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)


French: Hirondelle à gorge rousse German: Zimtkehlschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina gorjirrufa

Hirundo ruficollis


, 1817,



Formerly considered conspecific with S. serripennis, and race decolor has been regarded as intermediate between the two species, but they are separated altitudinally where ranges overlap in Costa Rica. Sometimes treated as monotypic, as races intergrade, also depth of plumage colour varies clinally, becoming generally darker from N to S & E. Birds from Suriname named as race cacabata, but description believed to have been based on migrants of nominate race. Four subspecies usually recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. decolor Griscom, 1929 – W Costa Rica and W Panama.
  • S. r. uropygialis (Lawrence, 1863) – Caribbean lowlands S from E Honduras, Pacific lowlands of E Panama, W Colombia, Ecuador and NW Peru.
  • S. r. aequalis Bangs, 1901 – N Colombia, W Venezuela and Trinidad.
  • S. r. ruficollis (Vieillot, 1817) – SE Colombia, E Venezuela, the Guianas and Brazil S to E Peru, Bolivia, N & NE Argentina (S to Salta, Formosa, Entre Ríos and N Buenos Aires) and Uruguay. S populations migrate N.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 14–18 g. Male nominate race is mainly dark grey-brown, slightly darker on crown than on back, slightly paler rump; wings and tail blackish-brown, stiff recurved... read more


    Similar to S. ruficollis but lower-pitched and less harsh (uropygialis); calls... read more


    Open country, particularly near water, also forest clearings, and along rivers. Usually below 1000... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), heteropteran bugs, and flying ants and other Hymenoptera. Feeds alone or in small... read more


    Mar/Apr–Jun in Central America and Trinidad, Feb–Jul in Colombia; single-brooded. Solitary or in small loose groups; aggressive... read more


    Apparently resident in N, pairs staying near nest-site; migratory in S. Forms large flocks after... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common and widespread; sometimes sparse and local. Restricted to areas with natural nest-sites, as it does not often use artificial ones. read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis). 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 23 February 2020).