Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)


French: Hirondelle à gorge blanche German: Weißkehlschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina gorjiblanca

Hirundo albigularis


, 1849,

Cape Peninsula, South Africa


Birds in N of range sometimes separated as race ambigua on basis of smaller wings and tail, but variation clinal. Monotypic.


S Malawi and Zimbabwe S to S South Africa (except NW); has bred Zambia and Namibia (possibly regular); single breeding report from C Angola requires confirmation. In non-breeding season populations from South Africa migrate N & NW to Angola, Zambia and SE DRCongo, possibly Tanzania#R.

Descriptive notes

14–17 cm; 16–29 g. Has rufous-chestnut forehead, glossy steel-blue crown and upperparts; wings brownish-black; tail blue-black, deeply forked, white patch on... read more


Song is a rapid twittering; calls include a sharp “chit” and nasal and squeaking notes. read more


Grassland, open woodland, floodplains and human habitations, often near water.

Food and feeding

Diet includes flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and Hymenoptera. Forages alone, in pairs or in small groups, often low over the ground... read more


Generally Aug/Sept–Apr, with peak Oct–Dec; may have two or more broods. Solitary. Nest an open cup made of mud pellets, lined... read more


Mostly migratory. Forms post-breeding flocks of up to 1000 individuals. Most migrate to areas N of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Generally common, but local; in South Africa most abundant in wet E areas and in SW Cape. Marginal in Mozambique; breeds in Chimanimani Mts on border... read more

Recommended citation

Turner, A. (2020). White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis). 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).