The bird genus Hirundo is a group of passerines in the family Hirundinidae (swallows and martins). The genus name is Latin for a swallow.[1] These are the typical swallows, including the widespread barn swallow. Many of this group have blue backs, red on the face and sometimes the rump or nape, and whitish or rufous underparts. With fifteen species this genus is the largest in its family.

Hirundo rustica -Saxony, Germany-8.jpg
A barn swallow collecting nest material in Germany
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Subfamily: Hirundininae
Genus: Hirundo
Linnaeus, 1758
Type species
Hirundo rustica (barn swallow)
Linnaeus, 1758

See text


The genus Hirundo was introduced in 1758 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae.[2] The genus name is the Latin word for a swallow.[3] Linnaeus included eight species in the genus and of these William Swainson designated the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) as the type species.[4][5]

Extant speciesEdit

The genus contains fifteen species. The linear sequence is based on two molecular phylogenetic studies published in 2005 and 2018.[6][7][8]

Image Common name Scientific name Distribution
  Black-and-rufous swallow Hirundo nigrorufa Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.
Blue swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea from South Africa to Tanzania
  Pied-winged swallow Hirundo leucosoma Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  White-tailed swallow Hirundo megaensis Oromia, Ethiopia.
  Pearl-breasted swallow Hirundo dimidiata southern Africa from Angola, southern Congo and Tanzania southwards.
  Pacific swallow Hirundo tahitica southern Asia and the islands of the south Pacific.
  Hill swallow Hirundo domicola southern India and Sri Lanka.
  Welcome swallow Hirundo neoxena Australia and nearby islands
  White-throated swallow Hirundo albigularis southern Africa from Angola and Zambia southwards to the Cape in South Africa.
  Wire-tailed swallow Hirundo smithii southern Africa and southeastern Asia.
  White-bibbed swallow Hirundo nigrita Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Uganda.
  Barn swallow Hirundo rustica North and South America, most of Africa aside from the Sahara Desert, most of Eurasia aside from the northern Siberia, and northern Australia.
  Angolan swallow Hirundo angolensis Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
  Red-chested swallow Hirundo lucida West Africa, the Congo Basin and Ethiopia.
  Ethiopian swallow Hirundo aethiopica Benin to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Israel, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda

Extinct speciesEdit

There are at least two fossil species included in this genus:

  • Hirundo gracilis (late Miocene of Polgardi, Hungary)[9]
  • Hirundo major (Pliocene of Csarnota, Hungary)[9]

Former speciesEdit

Some authorities, either presently or formerly, recognize several additional species as belonging to the genus Hirundo including:

Distribution and habitatEdit

All of the species are found in the Old World, although one, the barn swallow, is cosmopolitan, also occurring in the Americas.



  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 193. ISBN 978-1408125014.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 191.
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 193. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. ^ Swainson, William John (1837). On the Natural History and Classification of Birds. Vol. 2. London: John Taylor. p. 340.
  5. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 479. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
  6. ^ 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 sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 35 (1): 254–270. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.11.008. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 15737595.
  7. ^ Silva, Thilina N. de; Fernando, Sumudu W.; Robbins, Mark B.; Cooper, Jacob C.; Fokam, Eric B.; Peterson, A. Townsend (2018). "Recognition of a new generic-level swallow taxon from central Africa". Journal of Avian Biology. 49 (9): e01698. doi:10.1111/jav.01698. ISSN 1600-048X. S2CID 90611033.
  8. ^ "Taxonomic Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 2021-08-16.
  9. ^ a b Kessler, E. (2013). Neogene songbirds (Aves, Passeriformes) from Hungary. Hantkeniana Budapest 8: 37-149.
  10. ^ "Cecropis domicella - Avibase". Retrieved 2017-05-05.