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

See text


Genetic evidence has recently shown that many of the species previously included in Hirundo are less closely related than their appearance might suggest;[citation needed] these species are sometimes treated in the separate genera Cecropis (e.g., red-rumped swallow Cecropis daurica, previously Hirundo daurica) and Petrochelidon (e.g., cliff swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota, previously Hirundo pyrrhonota); they are as distinct from typical Hirundo as the house martins in the genus Delichon.

Extant speciesEdit

The genus contains fifteen species:[2]

Extinct speciesEdit

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

  • Hirundo gracilis (late Miocene of Polgardi, Hungary)[3]
  • Hirundo major (Pliocene of Csarnota, Hungary)[3]

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 1408125013.
  2. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Swallows". World Bird List Version 7.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b Kessler, E. (2013). Neogene songbirds (Aves, Passeriformes) from Hungary. Hantkeniana Budapest 8: 37-149.
  4. ^ "Cecropis domicella - Avibase". avibase.bsc-eoc.org. Retrieved 2017-05-05.