Fun African Swallow Facts For Kids

Iram Ashfaq
Oct 20, 2022 By Iram Ashfaq
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
African swallow facts that you wouldn't have known.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.3 Min

African swallows have a huge presence in the animal kingdom. Their diet consists largely of small aquatic creatures which give them plenty of energy to fly from one location to another on long migrations.

African swallows inhabit almost all parts of South Africa, except desert regions where there is very little food available for them.

When it flies, this bird's red underwings are often visible on its back and these birds are usually seen traveling high in straight lines over water when hunting for prey.

They eat insects, small fish, or lizards from lakesides and you can find them all through South Africa as well as southern Europe. They are found in areas where there's plenty of food available year-round because of warmer temperatures.

The South African swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a medium-sized bird that nests on the ground. They have long, tapered wings and forage in flocks during the day while they roost at night.

African swallows eat insects of all sizes as well as worms and other invertebrates like spiders. They grab spiders with their beaks from beneath rocks, bark, and leaves where these animals often hide.

The most interesting thing about African swallows is how their feathers change color to mimic those around them! This allows them to blend into their surroundings so predators can't see them easily when hunting prey by sight alone, they are such clever birds!

This bird's body and wings are black in color with white patches on its chest, throat, back, and its belly patch behind the eye. Its flight feathers have broad brown edges which can be seen when it flies away quickly or even at rest.

For more relatable content, check out these cliff swallow facts and swallow-tailed kite facts for kids.

African Swallow Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African swallow?

The South African swallow is a type of bird that is found in Africa. It has a vivid plumage, that is usually dark blue with black and white stripes or has barred markings on the wing.

What class of animal does an African swallow belong to?

The South African swallow belongs to the class Aves which includes all types of birds in the world such as the ovenbird. The South African swallow is one of the most fascinating, beautiful creatures. The bird has many amazing abilities and features that make it stand out amongst its peers in this class!

How many African swallows are there in the world?

There is no global estimate as of now about how many of these animals exist globally however it's likely that there are plenty as they are not listed as being at any threat on the threatened species list.

Where does an African swallow live?

If you're wondering where the South African swallow lives, look no further than the continent of Africa. They are found in open north savanna woodlands and grassland areas of sub-Saharan regions such as Senegal or Cameroon.

This bird is a small passerine with sharp claws that allow it to catch prey from above on both land and water surfaces while flying at high speeds during hunting expeditions.

What is an African swallow's habitat?

South African swallows live in southern Africa. They inhabit savannahs and other open, dry regions with scattered trees or scrubby bushes near rivers. A South African swallow nest is typically found on the ground under a thorn bush or tree stump, but they have also been found nesting high trees.

Who do African swallows live with?

African swallows (Hirundo rustica) live only with each other. They are monogamous birds who often gather in large, noisy flocks that fly high above the African plains.

How long does an African swallow live?

The African swallow lives to be about five years old. It is not yet known how long they live in captivity, but captive swallows usually do not last more than a few months before succumbing to illness or injury.

How do they reproduce?

African swallow (Hirundo rustica) reproduction is a very interesting process. African swallows will build their nest together on the ground or in trees for reproduction and to keep warm during the cold months and to keep dry if it's raining outside.

It usually takes about 28 days for an egg to hatch, but some eggs can take as long as 40-60 days because of environmental factors like temperature changes that affect incubation rates.

What is their conservation status?

For now, their conservation status is Least Concern.

African Swallow Fun Facts

What do African swallows look like?

These birds look pretty cool thanks to the dark brown feathers around their eyes. African swallow (Hirundo rustica) birds are pretty small creatures that have a dark and almost shiny plumage. Females are usually larger than males, but both sexes have brownish-black feathers with white spots on the wing and back.

The African swallow bird has been decreasing in its population lately.

* Please note that this is an image of a greater striped swallow, not an African swallow specifically. If you have an image of a great striped swallow please let us know at

How cute are they?

Both African and European swallow species are some of the cutest looking creatures in the world! They have a black head with bright white stripes that make them look like adorable little lark sparrows.

How do they communicate?

Both African and European swallow species communicate with each other by making a high-pitched sound in flight. This is how they form large and cohesive flocks to fly together, as well as warn their flock of the presence of predators such as birds or snakes on the ground below.

How big is an African swallow?

The average length range for an adult swallow is 4.5 - 10 in (12-22 cm) depending on where you find them. However, juvenile swallows in South Africa can be as small as 1.1 in (3 cm).

How fast can an African swallow fly?

African swallows are the fastest flying birds in Africa. They can fly up to 160 mph (200 kph)!

How much does an African swallow weigh?

Both African and European swallow birds are among the smallest of all known swallows. On average, they weigh just 0.04-0.06 lb (20-30 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

No specific terms have been coined for female and male African and European swallow birds of this species.

What would you call a baby African swallow?

A baby African or European swallow is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

The African barn swallow species eats a variety of animals of the world, including small insects, milkfish, and bugs. The species also enjoys eating berries in the summertime. They themselves have a range of predators, including hawks and eagles.

Are they dangerous?

The African barn swallow species does not usually attack humans. Both African and European swallows of this species are cautious of their surroundings and they only make a quick strike on their prey when they see an opportunity to eat.

Would they make a good pet?

African swallows are not a great species to keep as a pet as they are wild birds.

Did you know...

The African barn swallow species is a migratory bird species that builds a nest in Africa and spends winters on the coast of South America.

An African barn swallow can carry coconuts in flight, impressive right?

These swallows start their annual migration and prepare for raising young ones during spring. April, May, and June are prime months to watch these beautiful birds flying around you and building a nest.

How much weight can an African swallow carry?

African swallows are among the best in the animal kingdom for carrying heavy loads. They can transport heavy weights of up to 33 lb (15 kg) as they migrate across long distances during the nesting season. That's equivalent to a bowling ball and some change!

What are swallows a symbol of?

Swallow species swoop through the air gracefully and they represent new beginnings and offer hope for a better future with their arrival in springtime, signaling the end of the winter's chill.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our robin facts and magpie facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable African swallow coloring pages.

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Written by Iram Ashfaq

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

Iram Ashfaq picture

Iram AshfaqBachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

With a Bachelor's degree in Dental Surgery from Shaney Institute of Health Sciences and a Master's degree in Public Health from Imperial College London, Iram is a highly qualified and accomplished writer from Srinagar, India. Over the course of a year, she has acquired multiple writing certifications, focusing on health sciences and research studies. Prior to joining Kidadl, Iram gained valuable experience working as a content writer for Indian firms and interning at a New York-based company. Her expertise and passion for writing shine through in her ability to create compelling content across a variety of topics.

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