Backyard BirdsUncategorized


The Swallows and Martins are members of the Hirundinidae family that comprises two subfamilies:

  • Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and
  • Hirundininae (all other swallows and martins).

In Europe, Swallows are often referred to as Barn Swallows


They have slender, streamlined bodies; long, pointed wings and most of them have long tails. Their feet are designed for perching rather than walking. The front toes are partially joined at the base.

Diet / Feeding

These small birds are best known for their adaptation to aerial feeding. Swallows have aerodynamic bodies that allow them to efficiently hunt insects on the wing.

Nest / Breeding

In many cases, these birds will build mud nests close to overhead shelter in sheltered locations. Cave and cliff-dwelling species of swallow typically nest in large colonies.

Some will also readily accept regular commercial nest boxes. However, Avianweb visitor John Timm points out the importance of making sure that the nest box entrance holes for swallows is no bigger than 7/8″. Any larger, and aggressive nest competitors, such as the English sparrows, will be able to enter the boxes and kill the swallows (adults or young). He explains that swallows can roll their shoulders back to enter the smaller hole, while the larger sparrows cannot. He modified his nest boxes to have entrances sized 7/8″ in diameter and has since not experienced any more losses.

Pacific Swallow or Hill Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

Species Index

Subfamily Pseudochelidoninae (river martins)

  • Pseudochelidon
    • African River Martin Pseudochelidon eurystomina
    • White-eyed River Martin Pseudochelidon sirintarae

Subfamily Hirundininae (all other swallows and 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
  • Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii)
    • Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
    • Lesser Striped Swallow, Hirundo abyssinica
    • 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

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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