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Swallows and Martins
Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Vigors, 1825
Many, see text.

The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Swallow is also used in Europe as a synonym for the Barn Swallow.

This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows and martins). Within the Hirundiniae, the name martin tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name swallow for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups.

They have adapted to hunting insects on the wing by developing a slender streamlined body, and long pointed wings. Like the unrelated swifts and nightjars, which hunt in a similar way, they have short bills, but a wide gape.

Mud nests made by swallows.
Mud nests made by swallows.

Their feet are designed for perching rather than walking, and the front toes are partially joined at the base. Many species have long tails.

Swallows typically build mud nests close to overhead shelter in locations that are protected from both the weather and predators.

Many cave and cliff dwelling species of swallow nest in large colonies. In historical times, the introduction of man-made stone structures such as barns and bridges, together with forest clearance, has led to an abundance of colony sites around the globe, significantly increasing the breeding ranges of some species. Birds living in large colonies typically have to contend with both ectoparasites and conspecific nest parasitism. Old males benefit most from coloniality, since they are able to maintain their own nests and benefit from frequent extra-pair copulations.

Subfamily Pseudochelidoninae (river martins)
  • Pseudochelidon
    • African River Martin Pseudochelidon eurystomina
      White-eyed River Martin Pseudochelidon sirintarae
Subfamily Hirundininae (all other swallows & martins)
  • Psalidoprocne
    • Square-tailed Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne nitens
      Cameroon Mountain Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne fuliginosa
      White-headed Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne albiceps
      Black Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne pristoptera
      Fanti Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne obscura
      Eastern Saw-Wing (Swallow) Psalidoprocne orientalis
      Black Saw-Wing (Swallow) Psalidoprocne holomelaena
  • Pseudhirundo
    • Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga
  • Cheramoeca
    • White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosternus
  • Phedina
    • Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica
      Congo Martin Phedina brazzae
  • Riparia
    • Brown-throated Sand Martin Riparia paludicola
      Congo Sand Martin Riparia congica
      Sand Martin Riparia riparia
      Pale Martin Riparia diluta
      Banded Martin Riparia cincta
  • Tachycineta
    • Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
      Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina
      Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea
      Bahama Swallow Tachycineta cyaneoviridis
      Tumbes Swallow Tachycineta stolzmanni
      Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
      White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer
      White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa
      Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni
  • Progne
    • Purple Martin Progne subis
      Cuban Martin Progne cryptoleuca
      Caribbean Martin Progne dominicensis
      Sinaloa Martin Progne sinaloae
      Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
      Galapagos Martin Progne modesta
      Peruvian Martin Progne murphyi
      Southern Martin Progne elegans
      Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera
  • Notiochelidon
    • Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina
      Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
      Pale-footed Swallow Notiochelidon flavipes
      Black-capped Swallow Notiochelidon pileata
  • Haplochelidon
    • Andean Swallow Neochelidon andecola
  • Atticora
    • White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata
      Black-collared Swallow Atticora melanoleuca
  • Neochelidon
    • White-thighed Swallow Neochelidon tibialis
  • Stelgidopteryx
    • Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
      Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
  • Alopochelidon
    • Tawny-headed Swallow Alopochelidon fucata
  • Hirundo
    • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
      Red-chested Swallow Hirundo lucida
      Angolan Swallow Hirundo angolensis
      Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
      Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
      White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis
      Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica
      Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
      White-throated Blue Swallow Hirundo nigrita
      Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma
      White-tailed Swallow Hirundo megaensis
      Pearl-breasted Swallow Hirundo dimidiata
      Montane Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea
      Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa
  • Ptyonoprogne
    • Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
      Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
      Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
  • Delichon
    • House Martin Delichon urbicum
      Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
      Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalense
  • Cecropis
    • Greater Striped Swallow Cecropis cucullata
      Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
      Rufous-chested Swallow Cecropis semirufa
      Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis
      Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
      Striated Swallow Cecropis striolata
      Rufous-bellied Swallow Cecropis badia
  • Petrochelidon
    • Red-throated Swallow Petrochelidon rufigula
      Preuss's Swallow Petrochelidon preussi
      Red Sea Swallow Petrochelidon perdita
      South African Swallow Petrochelidon spilodera
      Forest Swallow Petrochelidon fuliginosa
      Streak-throated Swallow Petrochelidon fluvicola
      Fairy Martin Petrochelidon ariel
      Tree Martin Petrochelidon nigricans
      Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
      Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva
      Chestnut-collared Swallow Petrochelidon rufocollaris


  • Turner, Angela, Chris Rose (1989). Swallows and martins: an identification guide and handbook. Houghton-Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-51174-7.

External links

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