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Hirundo abyssinica (Lesser striped swallow)

Kleinstreepswael [Afrikaans]; Inkonjane (generic term for swallows) [Xhosa]; iNkonjane (generic term for swallows) [Zulu]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Nyenganyenga (generic name for swallow or martin) [Shona]; Nyengha (generic term for swallow) [Tsonga]; Pêolwane, Phêtla (generic terms for swifts, martins and swallows) [Tswana]; Savanne-zwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle striée [French]; Kleine streifenschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-estriada-pequena [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes  > Family: Hirundinidae

Hirundo abyssinica (Lesser striped swallow)

Lesser striped swallow, Mkuze Game Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Lesser striped swallow collecting nest material. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Distribution and habitat

It occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa from Guinea and Ethiopia down to southern Africa. Here it is common in the eastern half of the region, including Zimbabwe, Mozambique, northern and eastern Botswana, Kruger National Park, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It generally favours open habitats such as grassland, savanna, forest edges and clearings, open water (e.g. over a lake), gallery forest, rural settlements and cultivated land.

Distribution of Lesser striped swallow in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats arthropods, supplemented occasionally with fruit and seeds. Most foraging is done aerially, but it may descend onto a tree to feed on fruit or seeds, flapping its wings to balance. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes construct the nest (see images below), which is a bowl built of mud pellets and lined with grass and feathers. It is often placed in a man-made structure, such as a building or bridge, but it can also be positioned under a rock overhang or cavity in a branch or trunk of a tree. The same nest site used over multiple breeding seasons, each year it is either rebuilt or repaired before the eggs are laid.
Hirundo abyssinica (Lesser striped swallow) Hirundo abyssinica (Lesser striped swallow)
Lesser striped swallow, perching in and next to its nest. [photos H. Robertson, Iziko ©]
  • Laying dates vary greatly over its distribution, but egg-laying season is mainly from October-May.
  • It lays 2-4, usually 3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 14-21 days.
  • The chicks are fed regularly, leaving the nest after approximately 17-18 days. The fledglings are still dependent on their parents for 3-4 more weeks, roosting in their nest and eating the food brought to them.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.