Welcome Swallow Earthwatch Australia

Welcome Swallow

Hirundo neoxena

Did You Know?

  • Welcome Swallows often nest on verandahs, ledges, warehouses and sheds, where their droppings can create a nuisance or even a health hazard
  • The outer tail feathers, known as streamers, are slightly shorter in the female than the male Welcome Swallow
FactBox Image

Metallic blue-black on top and light to dark grey on its breast and belly. Its forehead, throat and upper breast are rust in colour. It has grey legs and feet, and its eyes and bill are black. A young Welcome Swallow has shorter tail feathers than an adult and its forehead and throat are a creamy beige (instead of rust).

Distinctive feature

A deeply forked tail with a white band or row of spots on the long tail feathers.

Size

About 15 cm long (to the tip of the tail)

Behaviour

Call

A mixture of twittering and soft warbling notes, with a sharp alarm whistle.

Diet

A range of insects which it catches on the wing. Welcome Swallows feed in large flocks when there are many insects around.

Flight

Swift and undulating.

Breeding

Readily breeds close to human habitation. Its nest is an open cup of mud and grass, made by both the male and female. It is attached to a vertical structure, such as a rock wall or building, and is lined with feathers and fur. The female lays three to five eggs and she incubates them, although both parents feed the young birds. There are often two broods in a season.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

What to Observe

  • Courting/Mating

  • Calling

  • Feeding

  • Bird on chicks

  • Bird on eggs

  • Bird on nest

  • Bird feeding young

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

  • From August to March
  • Breeding occurs from August through February
  • Eggs are laid any time between August and February
  • Eggs hatch 2 - 3 weeks after being laid
  • Young birds leave the nest when they are 2 - 4 weeks old

Where To Look

  • Throughout Australia, except in the more heavily forested regions and drier inland areas, and is less common in far northern Australia
  • It will travel widely in search of food and is particularly common near fresh water
  • Nests are often found on vertical walls or buildings
  • It can be seen on wires, posts and other suitable perches
Species: WhatElse Image

What Else?

Another swallow wouldn’t have the Welcome Swallow’s rust-coloured forehead and throat.

Similar Species

Barn Swallow has a dark blue to black breast-band across its throat, separating its red chin from its white chest and underparts. In flight, the front edges on the underside of its wings are white, but on a Welcome Swallow they are grey.

The White-backed Swallow has a white back and pale-grey head, and the Red-rumped Swallow has a red rump and streaked, chestnut underparts.

Swifts are larger and has longer and more-curved wings, and rarely lands. Welcome Swallows are commonly seen sitting on perches.

Fairy Martin or Tree Martin has a shorter, squarer tail, and white to buff coloured rump.