Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosterna)


French: Hirondelle à dos blanc German: Weißrückenschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina dorsiblanca

Hirundo leucosternus


, 1841,

Naomi River, New South Wales, Australia


Proposed races marngli (Fitzroy R, in N Western Australia) and stonei (Warialda, in New South Wales) undiagnosable. Species name often spelt leucosternum or leucosternus, but is a latinized Greek adjective and must agree with gender of genus, in this case feminine#R. Monotypic.


W, C, S & E Australia.

Descriptive notes

15 cm; 12–16 g. Pied coloration distinctive. Has forehead, outer crown, mantle, chin, throat, upper breast and under­wing-coverts white; centre of crown and band... read more


Song is a twittering; also a harsh “check” uttered in flight.


Open country, usually near water, such as rivers with sandy banks.

Food and feeding

Diet includes beetles (Coleoptera), mirid bugs (Hemiptera), nemato­ceran flies, Lepidoptera, hymenopterans (including ants and... read more


Jul/Aug–Dec, after rains in arid regions; single-brooded. Solitary, or in groups of up to 80 pairs. Excavates own burrow in sandy... read more


Generally resident; some post-breeding movements, e.g. deserts breeding sites in S Murray-Darling... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Generally common, depending on presence of breeding sites. Has extended its range over the last century to coast of SE Queensland and New South Wales... read more

Recommended citation

Turner, A. (2020). White-backed Swallow (Cheramoeca leucosterna). 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).