Monday, 7 April 2014

Black-and-Rufous Swallow

Black-and-Rufous Swallow; Illustation
by Richard Bowdler Sharpe
Animal of the Month

What's so special about it?

The Black-and-Rufous Swallow (Hirundo nigrorufa) is just one of many non-descript bird species living a largely-ignored existence in remote parts of Africa. It's not a flashy drawcard species like the Shoebill Stork (Baeleniceps rex) or Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) that lures in birdwatchers from all over the world. When I searched for images of this humble Swallow on the internet, I could not find a single published picture verifying its existence. Next time you're on safari, you might find that a photograph of some small obscure bush bird brings you more fame and glory than the millionth photo of a Lion!



Where can I see one?

It is now thought that the Swallow family evolved in Africa as small, tunnel-nesting birds which then dispersed around the globe thanks to their mastery of flight. This is because Africa still has a very high proportion of the 83 Swallow species known to exist. The Black-and-Rufous Swallow is one of these 'mother country' birds, found on the wetlands and open grounds of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zambia.

 

Is there anything similar near Brisbane?

Welcome Swallow; Illustration by
Neville Cayley
We have three Swallow species that are common around our city, though two of these are short-tailed birds called Martins. The other species, the Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) is one of Australia's best known and loved birds, thanks to its habit of nesting around homes and buildings. They are very common in the skies above Brisbane - my favourite places to watch them are in almost any shopping centre, and on the Citycat ferry as both it and the birds zoom along the river.


Black-and-Rufous Swallow illustration courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Welcome Swallow illustration courtesy of the Australian National Botanic Gardens website.




10 comments:

  1. we only get barn swallows here, but i am happy for their insect eating. :)

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    1. I loved seeing Barn Swallows when I was in Europe. We even get them turning up in Australia occasionally - a well-travelled bird! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  2. very well presented Christian, and the Welcome Swallows are amazing how tirelessly they gather little bill fulls of mud to make their nests

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    1. Thanks Carole :) Yes the swallows are industrious little birds for sure!

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  3. I love it when the Swallows arrive here. It means Spring has sprung fully. They're not here yet.....

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    1. I've been reading some UK bird blogs this morning and they've arrived down south, so they're on their way! :)

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  4. Yes Christian our Barn Swallows are arriving now and very "welcome" they are too as harbingers of Spring and Summer. It's such a pity that some parts of Africa seem to be off limits at various times in their recent history.

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    1. Yes, it's a very mysterious continent!

      I think the Barn Swallow is very similar to our Welcome Swallow, the latter is just greyer underneath and lacks the black breastband.

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  5. Lots of Welcome swallows overhead down at the coast nr. Wilsons Promontory - maybe they are gathering for trip north.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Yes, winter can be quite good for birds here in QLD as we get all the migrants from down your way. I saw my first Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Rose Robin for the season yesterday, so they are all moving about I imagine!

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