Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

White-headed Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne albiceps)


French: Hirondelle à tête blanche German: Weißkopfschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina cabeciblanca

Psalidoprocne albiceps

P. L. Sclater

, 1864,

Uzinza, Tabora district, Tanzania


Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. albiceps P. L. Sclater, 1864 – extreme S South Sudan and E DRCongo, Uganda and W Kenya S to Tanzania (mainly around L Victoria and in W), N Zambia and N Malawi.
  • P. a. suffusa Ripley, 1960 – N Angola (Cacolo area in Lunda Sul).
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 11–14 g. Male has distinctive white crown, forehead, side of head, chin and throat, black bar from bill through eye and ear-coverts; rest of plumage brownish-... read more


    Not very vocal; has twittering call.


    Savanna, woodland, scrub and forest in upland areas, including miombo woodland and montane,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Two stomachs contained flying ants (Hymenoptera); beetles (Coleoptera) and flies (Diptera) also recorded in diet. Feeds in small groups,... read more


    Aug–Sept in Sudan, Nov–Mar in Kenya, Apr–Jun in Uganda, Apr–Mar and Nov in Rwanda, May–Oct in DRCongo, Dec... read more


    Migratory in S of range. Breeding birds present in NE Zambia from Oct to early May, and in Malawi... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common in much of range; only locally common in DRCongo. Isolated Angolan race suffusa uncommon and very local, found only near... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). White-headed Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne albiceps). 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).