Psalidoprocne orientalis (Eastern saw-wing) 

Tropiese saagvlerkswael [Afrikaans]; Hirondelle de Reichenow [French]; Reichenows sägeflügelschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-preta-oriental [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

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across Malawi and northern Mozambique, with an isolated population in Zimbabwe and south-central Mozambique. It is by the far the most common in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands, much more scarce further north and in central Mozambique. It is also a vagrant to the Caprivi Strip and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. It generally prefers the fringes of forest or woodland, typically close to open water but also occupying open hillsides, vleis and miombo (Brachystegia) woodland.

Distribution of Eastern saw-wing 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).

Movements and migrations

Altitudinal migrant in Zimbabwe with most other populations resident, although it is scarce in winter.


It eats a variety of aerial insects, usually hawking prey close to the ground. Most foraging is done at dawn or dusk, sometimes around noon if the sky is overcast.


  • Monogamous, solitary nester, although nests can be as close as 10-20 metres apart.
  • The nest is slightly inclined burrow, consisting of a 40-80 cm long tunnel ending in a chamber, where a saucer-shaped structure of lichens and dry grass is built. It is usually dug into a roadside cutting, stream bank or any other exposed area.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-April, peaking from October-December.
  • It usually lays 2 eggs, which are probably incubated for approximately 18 days.


Status uncertain, but it is probably not threatened, although the deforestation is cause for concern.


  • 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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