Pseudhirundo griseopyga (Grey-rumped swallow) 

Gryskruisswael [Afrikaans]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Nyenganyenga (generic name for swallow or martin) [Shona]; Grijsstuitzwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle à croupion gris [French]; Graubürzelschwalbe [German]; Andorinha-de-rabadilha-cinzenta [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

Pseudhirundo griseopyga (Grey-rumped swallow)  

Grey-rumped swallow, Hazyview, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]


Distribution and habitat

Localised in West Africa, with the bulk of its population extending from Uganda through the eastern DRC, Zambia, Angola, Malawi and northern Mozambique to southern Africa. Here it is scarce to locally common in Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, extreme northern Namibia, southern Mozambique, Swaziland and the eastern areas of Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. It is most commonly seen over flood plains, expansive woodland clearings and short or burnt sandy grassland, especially near water. It also occurs in ploughed fields, bare ground at vlei edges and sports fields.

Distribution of Grey-rumped 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 northern Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique but partially migratory in Zimbabwe. here its generally much more scarce from October-April and can be completely absent during wet summers.


It eats aerial insects, especially flies (Diptera), termite alates and beetles (Coleoptera), usually foraging about 8 metres above ground, sometimes over open water. It often hawks prey flushed by tractors, fires and even military explosives.


  • Monogamous, solitary or loosely colonial in groups of about 3-10 breeding pairs.
  • The nest is an untidy platform built of dry grass, flower heads and stems, placed in a chamber at the end of a 0.6-1.0 metre long tunnel. It usually uses old rodent burrows on bare ground, such as in burnt grassland, at the edge of pans and even on sports fields. It may also use a deserted kingfisher or Little bee-eater burrow.
Pseudhirundo griseopyga (Grey-rumped swallow)  

Grey-rumped swallow in its burrow, Pafuri, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from  April-November, peaking from June-August.
  • It lays 2-5 glossy white eggs, the shape of which may, vary even within a clutch from stumpy to long and pointed.


Not threatened, in fact it may have benefited from deforestation and overgrazing as it favours open bare ground. s


  • 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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