Hirundo senegalensis (Mosque swallow) 

Moskeeswael [Afrikaans]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Nyengha (generic term for swallow) [Tsonga]; Moskeezwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle des mosquées [French]; Senegalschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-das-mesquitas [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes  > Family: Hirundinidae

Hirundo senegalensis (Mosque swallow) Hirundo senegalensis (Mosque swallow)

Mosque swallow. [photo Martin Goodey ©]

Mosque swallow, Kruger National Park, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Patchily distributed across sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Ethiopia south to southern Africa. Here it is scarce in the extreme north of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, with a separate population east of Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga, south-eastern Zimbabwe and southern and central Mozambique. It generally prefers dense broad-leaved woodland, especially Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) but also Miombo (Brachystegia), with scattered baobabs (Adansonia digitata) and leadwoods (Combretum imberbe).

Distribution of Mosque swallow in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Mostly resident in southern Africa, but partially migratory in northern Namibia and Botswana, where a lot of the population leave during winter.


It eats flying insects, such as ants, termites and flies, typically foraging 20-30 metres above ground. It also attends termite emergences and fires, sometimes gathering in flocks of up to 100 birds.


  • Monogamous, nesting either solitarily or in small groups.
  • The nest is a gourd-shaped bowl built of mud pellets and lined with grass and feathers, with a long entrance tunnel attached to the side. It is often placed in tree cavities (especially in Baobab Ansonia digitata), alternatively in or under tree branches, in buildings or road culverts.
  • Egg-laying season is year-round, peaking from August-April.
  • In Uganda it lays 2-4 pure white eggs.


Not threatened, in fact its range has expanded recently into the Skukuza region of the Kruger National Park.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.



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