Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii)


French: Hirondelle à longs brins German: Rotkappenschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina colilarga

Hirundo Smithii


, 1818,

Chisalla Island, Democratic Republic of Congo


Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. s. smithii Leach, 1818 – sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal, S Mali and C Ivory Coast E to C & SE Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, and S (outside C rainforest zone) to N Namibia, N Botswana and NE South Africa.
  • H. s. filifera Stephens, 1826 – breeding visitor to S Uzbekistan, S Tajikistan, Afghanistan, N Pakistan and NW India; resident in SE Pakistan, most of India, SW Nepal, Myanmar, N Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and C Vietnam.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–21 cm; 9–17 g. Distinctive. Has forehead and crown rufous-chestnut, upperparts glossy blue; wings and tail black with blue gloss, white patches on inner webs... read more


    Twittering song “chirrickweet chirrickweet”; calls include a “chit-chit”... read more


    Grassland, savanna, open woodland, clearings, cultivation, also human habitations, including towns... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), mayflies (Ephemeroptera),... read more


    Generally two peaks, at start of rains, e.g. Jan–May and Jul–Dec in Senegal, all year (peaks Jan–Mar and Jul–Aug)... read more


    In Africa, resident near nest-site in some areas, e.g. in Gambia, Central African Republic and W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Varies from uncommon to locally abundant. Uncommon in W Africa, common and more widespread in E, common to locally very common in S; common to... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii). 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).