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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Sylvioidea

Familia: Hirundinidae
Genus: Hirundo
Species: Hirundo atrocaerulea
Subspecies: H. a. atrocaerulea - H. a. lynesi

Hirundo atrocaerulea Sundevall, 1850

Öfversigt af Kongliga Vetenskaps-Akademiens Förhandlingar 7 p. 107

Vernacular names
Afrikaans: Blouswael
català: Oreneta blava
čeština: Vlaštovka modrá
English: Blue Swallow
español: Golondrina azul
فارسی: چلچله آبی‌رنگ
français: Hirondelle bleue
magyar: Kék fecske
кырык мары: Симсӹ цӹгӓк
Nederlands: Blauwe zwaluw
svenska: Blåsvala

The blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea) is a small bird within the swallow family which is in the order Passeriformes. Swallows are somewhat similar in habits and appearance to other aerial insectivores, such as the martins (also a passerine) and the swifts (order Apodiformes). It breeds in the Afromontane (from South Africa to Tanzania), wintering north of Lake Victoria.

This bird breeds in montane grassland, preferring high rainfall, undulating areas. In winter it prefers open grassland, with bushes and trees. The nest is usually attached to the roof or side of a hole in the ground.[2]


This species is a small swallow at 18–25 centimetres (7.1–9.8 in). The adult birds have a highly lustrous dark metallic steel-blue appearance with long tail streamers, which are particularly noticeable in males. White feathers are visible on the rump and flanks when the birds are preening and especially during courtship. In poor light, blue swallows appear almost black and therefore can be mistaken for black saw-wing swallows (Psalidoprocne spp.) which occur throughout its breeding range. Young blue swallows start life a brownish-grey, acquiring their blue colour as they mature. This species has a musical "bee-bee-bee-bee" call when in flight.[3]

Blue swallows feed on small, soft-bodied flies and other arthropods, catching them on the wing.[4]

The blue swallow arrives on the breeding range at the end of September and constructs cup-shaped nests from mud and grass on the inside of sinkhole cavities, aardvark burrows and old mine shafts. The breeding system of the blue swallow is not well understood although co-operative breeding has been widely recorded in this species. The nests are lined with fine grass, animal hair and white feathers. Normally, three white eggs are laid. They are incubated by the female for 14 days, and the chicks are fed for approximately 22 days until they fledge. Once fledged, the young spend the next couple of days around the nest site before disappearing. Most blue swallows will rear a second brood before returning to the over-wintering grounds in April.[4]

This species is classified as Vulnerable due to destruction of its habitat at both its breeding and wintering sites. The current population is estimated at 1,500-4,000 and decreasing.[1]

This article incorporates text from the ARKive fact-file "Blue swallow" under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License and the GFDL.

BirdLife International (2019). "Hirundo atrocaerulea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T22712318A155549636. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T22712318A155549636.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
BirdLife Species Factsheet
Blue Swallow, Hirundo atrocaerulea BirdLife International (May, 2005). Retrieved 2011-08-24.
Spottiswoode, C.N. (2005) Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and Martins). In: Hockey, P.A.R. and Dean W.R.J. and Ryan, P.G. (Eds) Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. Seventh Edition. John Voelker Bird Fund, Cape Town.

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