Cecropis is a genus of large swallows found in Africa and tropical Asia. The red-rumped swallow's range also extends into southern Europe, and (in small numbers) into Australia. This genus is frequently subsumed into the larger genus Hirundo.[1]

Hirundo abyssinica.jpg
Lesser striped swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Subfamily: Hirundininae
Genus: Cecropis
F. Boie, 1826

See text

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The swallow family consists of 74 bird species which typically hunt insects in flight. The two river martins have long been recognised as very distinctive, and are placed in a separate subfamily, Pseudochelidoninae, leaving all other swallows and martins in the Hirundininae. DNA studies suggest that there are three major groupings within the Hirundininae subfamily, broadly correlating with the type of nest built.[2] The groups are the "core martins" including burrowing species like the sand martin, the "nest-adopters", with birds like the tree swallow which use natural cavities, and the "mud nest builders". The Cecropsis species construct a closed mud nest and therefore belong to the latter group. It is believed that the evolutionary sequence is from species that make open cup nests (Hirundo and Ptyonoprogne), through Delichon house martins with closed nests, to Cecropis and Petrochelidon, which have retort-like closed nests with an entrance tunnel.[3]

The genus Cecropis was introduced by the German zoologist Friedrich Boie in 1826.[4] The type species was subsequently designated as the greater striped swallow (Cecropis cucullata) by the Italian zoologist Tommaso Salvadori in 1881.[5][6] The name of the genus is from the Ancient Greek Kekropis "Athenian woman".[7]


The nine species in the genus are:[8]

Image Scientific name Common name Distribution
  Cecropis cucullata Greater striped swallow southern Africa, mainly in South Africa, Namibia and southern Zimbabwe. It is migratory wintering further north in Angola, Tanzania and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  Cecropis abyssinica Lesser striped swallow Sub-Saharan Africa from Sierra Leone and southern Sudan south into eastern South Africa.
  Cecropis semirufa Red-breasted swallow Sahara from the Eastern Cape north to northern Namibia and southern Angola in the west and Mozambique in the east, with a disjunct range from Senegal south to northern Angola east to Uganda, south western Kenya and north western Tanzania.
  Cecropis senegalensis Mosque swallow southern Mauritania and Senegal east to western South Sudan then south to Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and north eastern South Africa.
  Cecropis daurica Red-rumped swallow Portugal and Spain to Japan, India, Sri Lanka and tropical Africa
Cecropis hyperythra Sri Lanka swallow Sri Lanka
  Cecropis domicella West African swallow Senegal to eastern Sudan
Cecropis striolata Striated swallow South and Southeast Asia to northeastern India and Taiwan.
Cecropis badia Rufous-bellied swallow Malay Peninsula.


  1. ^ Angela K. Turner; Chris Rose (November 1989). Swallows & Martins: An Identification Guide and Handbook. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-51174-9. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  2. ^ Sheldon, Frederick H.; Whittingham, Linda A.; Moyle, Robert G.; Slikas, Beth; Winkler, David W. (April 2005). "Phylogeny of swallows (Aves: Hirundinidae) estimated from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 35 (1): 254–270. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.11.008. PMID 15737595.
  3. ^ Winkler, David W.; Sheldon, Frederick H. (June 1993). "Evolution of nest construction in swallows (Hirundinidae): a molecular phylogenetic perspective" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 90 (12): 5705–5707. doi:10.1073/pnas.90.12.5705. PMC 46790. PMID 8516319. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17.
  4. ^ Boie, Friedrich (1826). "Generalübersicht". Isis von Oken (in German). 19. Col 971.
  5. ^ Salvadori, Tommaso (1881). Ornitologia della Papuasia e delle Molucche (in Italian). Part 2. Torino: G.B. Paravia. p. 1.
  6. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Greenway, James C. Jr, eds. (1960). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 9. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 113.
  7. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 13 May 2018.
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Swallows". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 13 May 2018.