Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena)


French: Hirondelle messagère German: Glücksschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina australiana

Hirundo neoxena


, 1842,

#R, “the whole southern portions of Australia” = Tasmania


In past treated as conspecific with H. tahitica (including H. javanica), but differs morphologically (especially in bill size and in tail structure and markings). Races poorly defined; tail length increases slightly from SE Australia W to Eyre Peninsula and decreases in W Australia, more so in males than in females; might be better treated as monotypic#R. Proposed race parsonsi from NE Australia (E Queensland), supposedly with less white in tail, considered indistinguishable. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. n. carteri (Mathews, 1912) – W Australia.
  • H. n. neoxena Gould, 1842 – SC & E Australia, Tasmania, Lord Howe I, Norfolk I, New Zealand (including Great Barrier I), Kermadec Is, Chatham Is and Auckland Is; non-breeding also in N Australia, including Torres Strait.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–17 cm; 12–17 g. Has forehead rufous-chestnut, crown and upper­parts glossy steel-blue; wings and tail blackish-brown, tail deeply forked, white patch on... read more


    Song is a mixture of twittering and trills; contact call “seet” and a sharp alarm call... read more


    Open country, coasts, cultivation and human habitations, often near water. Roosts in wetlands.

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes flies (Diptera), Hymenoptera, beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (both heteropterans and homopterans), stoneflies (Plecoptera),... read more


    Jul–Apr, peak Sept–Oct, earlier inland than on coast; Aug–Feb in New Zealand; 2–3 broods. Solitary, sometimes in... read more


    Resident and partial migrant; forms flocks after breeding, usually of up to 500 birds. Resident or... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Has extended range outside Australia since late 1950s. First recorded in New Zealand in 1958, in Northland, and present throughout Northland... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena). 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 22 February 2020).