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Hirundo cucullata (Greater striped swallow) 

Grootstreepswael [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 (also applied to Barn swallow) [South Sotho]; Nyenganyenga (generic name for swallow or martin) [Shona]; Mbawulwana, Nyenga (generic term for swallow) [Tsonga]; Polwane, Phtla (generic terms for swifts, martins and swallows) [Tswana]; Kaapse zwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle tte rousse [French]; Groe streifenschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-estriada-grande [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 cucullata (Greater striped swallow)  Hirundo cucullata (Greater striped swallow) 
Greater striped swallow. [photo Trevor Hardaker ] Greater striped swallow. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]
Hirundo cucullata (Greater striped swallow)
Greater striped swallow, De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ] Greater striped swallow, Kleinmond, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to Africa south of the equator, occurring from southern DRC, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it occurs across much of South Africa excluding the arid north-western Karoo and the extremities of Limpopo Province. It also occupies central Namibia, central and eastern Zimbabwe and small areas of Botswana. It generally prefers open habitats such as grassland, fynbos, karoo, open savanna, suburban areas, cultivated land and farmyards.

Distribution of Greater 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Greater honeyguide.

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, arriving from its central African non-breeding grounds around July-August in the Limpopo Province, Western and Eastern Cape. It reaches Swaziland, Botswana and KwaZulu-Natal during September-October, eventually leaving the region around April-May.


It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging aerially along with other swallows or swifts, hawking prey over open grassland, large stretches of water and around man-made structures. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, solitary nester, one breeding pair usually produces 2-3 broods per breeding season. Pair bonds last for the duration of the breeding process, after which the pair go their separate ways. If one adult dies his mate immediately tries find a new partner. If this fails one of the offspring from a previous breeding season returns to mate with the widowed parent.
  • Both sexes construct the nest which is a bowl of mud pellets, thickly lined with feathers and grass. An approximately 7-23 cm long tubular entrance is placed on the side of the structure. It can be placed in a variety of places, such as under a rock overhang, free-standing boulder or fallen tree. Artificial sites are commonly used, especially under a road culvert, eaves or veranda of a building, old mine workings or in a nest box.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-April, peaking from November-March.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for 16-20 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults, leaving the nest after approximately 23-30 days. The young still roost in the nest up to 3 weeks after fledging.


Not threatened, in fact its numbers have increased due to the abundance 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.