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Hirundo albigularis (White-throated swallow)

Witkeelswael [Afrikaans]; Inkonjane (generic term for swallows) [Xhosa]; iNkonjane (generic term for swallows) [Zulu]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Lefokotsane (generic term for swallow), ’Malinakana, Lekabelane [South Sotho]; Nyenganyenga (generic name for swallow or martin) [Shona]; Mbawulwana, Nyenga (generic term for swallow) [Tsonga]; Pêolwane, Phêtla (generic terms for swifts, martins and swallows) [Tswana]; Witkeelzwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle à gorge blanche [French]; Weißkehlschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-de-garganta-branca [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 albigularis (White-throated swallow) Hirundo albigularis (White-throated swallow)
White-throated swallow. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]. White-throated swallow, Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]
Hirundo albigularis (White-throated swallow)
White-throated swallow. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©] White-throated swallow, South Africa. [photo Gerhard Theron ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern DRC, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. In this region the bulk of Its population lies in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, with scattered populations in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats, but it generally favours open grassland, fynbos and mountainous regions, especially near water.

Distribution of White-throated 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.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Polyboroides typus (African harrier-hawk, Gymnogene) 

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Lesser honeyguide.

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, arriving in southern Africa during July-September and leaving around April-May in flocks of 20-1000 birds. Its non-breeding grounds are reportedly in Angola, Zambia and southern DRC, but no ring recoveries have been made to confirm this.


It exclusively eats airborne insects, doing most of its foraging close to the ground, hawking prey aerially. It occasionally forages on the ground and along coastal shorelines. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It is a monogamous, solitary nester, with one breeding pair producing multiple broods in a single breeding season.
  • The nest (see image below) is a small, open cup made of mud pellets and lined with fine grass, rootlets, hair and feathers. It is often placed on a vertical rock face (often under an overhang) or commonly a man-made structure such as a water tank, bridge, dam wall or building.
Hirundo albigularis (White-throated swallow)
White-throated swallow feeding chicks at nest. [photos Peter Steyn ©] White-throated swallows mating, South Africa. [photo Jim Scarff ©]
  • Egg-laying season is from August-March, peaking in October-December.
  • It lays 2-5, usually 3 eggs which are incubated for 15-18 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults, fledging after about 18-25 days, but still roosting in the nest for at least 2 weeks.


Not threatened, in fact its range and population have increased in the Western Cape due to the increasing availability of man-made nest sites.


  • 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.