Welcome Swallow
Welcome Swallow Image: Mark Gillow
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    neoxena
    Genus
    Hirundo
    Family
    Hirundinidae
    Order
    Passeriformes
    Class
    Aves
  • Size Range
    15 cm

Welcome Swallows have short bristles at the sides of their mouths which help to guide their food (insects) into their mouths while flying at speed.

Identification

The Welcome Swallow is metallic blue-black above, light grey below on the breast and belly, and rust on the forehead, throat and upper breast. It has a long forked tail, with a row of white spots on the individual feathers. The outer tail feathers (streamers) are slightly shorter in the female. Young Welcome Swallows are buffy white, instead of rusty, on the forehead and throat, and have shorter tail streamers.

Habitat

Welcome Swallows visit a wide variety of habitats with the exception of the more heavily forested regions and drier inland areas.

Distribution

Welcome Swallows are widespread in Australia, but are less common in the far north than in the south.



Seasonality

Welcome Swallows are partially migratory, moving around in response to food availability.

Feeding and diet

Welcome Swallows feed on a wide variety on insects. They catch prey in flight, using their acrobatic flying skills. The prey is guided into the bird's wide, open mouth with the help of short rictal bristles bordering the bill. These bristles also help protect the bird's eye. Where insects are in large supply, Welcome Swallows feed in large flocks.

Communication

The call is a mixture of twittering and soft warbling notes, and a sharp whistle in alarm.

Breeding behaviours

Welcome Swallows readily breed close to human habitation. The nest is an open cup of mud and grass, made by both sexes, and is attached to a suitable structure, such as a vertical rock wall or building. The nest is lined with feathers and fur. The female alone incubates the eggs but the young are fed by both parents. Often two broods are raised in a season.

  • Breeding Season: August to February.