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25

Welcome Swallow

(Hirundo neoxena)
Alternative name: "House Swallow*", "Australian Swallow"
Aboriginal name: "baringbah"

Size: 14-15 cm
Weight: 15 g (average)

Similar species

SUBSECTIONS:     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Taxonomy, classification

See Welcome Swallow at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Welcome Swallows, race "neoxena", visited us regularly where we lived in 2003-2006, 20 km South of Narrabri, NSW. A couple stayed there to raise their young under the roof of a shed.

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "neoxena"

Frontal view of a Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Lateral view of a Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Welcome Swallow with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2007]

This near-dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow shows particularly well the blue-black sheen of the plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast, QLD, February 2014]

Dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Small flock of Welcome Swallows resting and preening
[Goran Lake, NSW, June 2012]

Welcome Swallow in flight seen from underneath (photo by R. Druce)

Welcome Swallow in flight (right); on the left one can also see a Fairy Martin
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2010]

Feeding time for two young Welcome Swallows, with one of their parents approaching from the left with something it its bill
[Yarrie Lake near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Adult Welcome Swallow (right) with one of two chicks on their first outing, two hours after fledging
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2013]

Family of Welcome Swallows preening (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Close-up near-lateral view of an immature Welcome Swallow (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Young Welcome Swallow waiting to be fed
[O'Brien's Creek, Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Welcome Swallow chick on its first outing when the photo was taken; later that night all four chicks return to their nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Here a "complete set" of four Welcome Swallow chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

The same "complete set" of four Welcome Swallow chicks, seen from behind
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 4 - 6 Incubation period: 14 - 16 days Fledging age: ca. 14 days

Welcome Swallows can, given the right conditions, breed any time of the year. They can nest in colonies, but also on their own. Pairs often have more than one clutch per breeding season. The nest and eggs shown above where photographed at the start of August, that is winter in our region, when the birds were getting off to an early start. A pair nesting in an empty water tank at our former neighbour's place at the same time tells us that this is not a singular occurrence. Male and female share the incubation and feeding duties. During the breeding season adult birds will roost on or in the nest.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = Nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Bowl Material: Mud with feather lining Height above ground: Various

Nests can be at heights of up to several metres, but may also be attached to surfaces of culverts that are below ground level.

During the summers of 2006/07 and 2007/08 we had a nest under the awning of the roof of our home 20 km east of Narrabri. This nest was re-used annually, until the 2011/12 breeding season. No significant changes were made to the clay bowl; only new lining was used. Duck feathers, mostly of Australian Wood Ducks are used, which are a very effective insulation material.

Welcome Swallow feeding four chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

View from the other side of the Welcome Swallow nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Curious Welcome Swallow chicks peeking over the rim of the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

This Welcome Swallow chick was the first to start sitting on the edge of the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Here a Welcome Swallow inspecting an old nest in the middle of winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

This is a more "avant garde"-style Welcome Swallow nest (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 19 x 13 mm Colour: Pale creamy with light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

View (with the help of a mirror) into a neatly feather-lined nest with four eggs in it; all four chicks were raised successfully
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2012]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory/ dispersive/ sedentary Elementary unit: Pair/flock

Welcome Swallows will leave an area during mild to severe night frosts. They can thereby serve as a good indicator for the severity of a winter to come. If they stay around, temperatures will usually not drop below -2 to -3 C.

Welcome Swallows on a rockshelf at the end of winter 2012, possibly congregating to migrate to the north
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Food, Diet

Adults: Small insects Dependents: As adults Water intake: Daily(?)

Like all other swallows known to us, Welcome Swallows are insect hunters. They feed in-flight on small insects.

Call/s

For this species we have recorded the following call/s. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

The variety and complexity of calls used by Welcome Swallows demonstrates that they are songbirds (as opposed to various species of swifts, which are non-passerines).

There is now a separate page with recordings of chicks in their nest.

welcome_20140109_2.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) Contact call MD
welcome_20140112.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) Warning call MD
welcome_20140912_2.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) Alarm calls to chicks (cat) MD
welcome_20140403.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) Hunting (in-flight) MD
welcome_20140409.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) First call (dawn) MD
welcome_20140220.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD
welcome_20140226.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD
welcome_20140226_2.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD
welcome_20140226_3.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD
welcome_20140226_6.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD
welcome_20140226_7.mp3 neoxena (NW NSW) ? MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.