Blue-and-white swallow

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Blue-and-white swallow
Pygochelidon cyanoleuca -Capao do Leao, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil-8.jpg
In Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Notiochelidon
Species: N. cyanoleuca
Binomial name
Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
(Vieillot, 1817)

Hirundo cyanoleuca Vieillot, 1817
Notiochelidon cyanoleuca

The blue-and-white swallow (Notiochelidon cyanoleuca) is a passerine bird that breeds from Nicaragua south throughout South America, except in the deserts and the Amazon Basin. The southern race is migratory, wintering as far north as Trinidad, where it is a regular visitor. The nominate northern race may have bred on that island.[2]

Sometimes placed in the genus Pygochelidon,[3] it was first formally described as Hirundo cyanoleuca by French ornithologist Louis Vieillot in 1817, based on a specimen he believed to be from Paraguay.[4] The scientific name has the same meaning as the English common name.


The adult blue-and-white swallow averages 11–12 cm (4.3–4.7 in) long and weighs about 10 g (0.35 oz). It has dark blue upperparts and white underparts, and its underwings and the undersurface of its short forked tail are blackish. The juvenile is brown above, buff-tinted below, and has a less forked tail. The call is a buzzing dzzzhreeee.[5]

There are three subspecies. The nominate N. c. cyanoleuca occurs from Nicaragua and Trinidad south to northwestern Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The migratory southern race N. c. patagonica is larger (13.5 cm (5.3 in)), has paler underwings, and white basal undertail coverts. N. c. peruviana is restricted to coastal Peru up to 2,500 m (8,200 ft) altitude. It is smaller than patagonica, has less white in the undertail, darker underwings and duskier flanks.[5]


This is a swallow of open areas including villages and towns, farms, and forest clearings. In Central America, it is a highland bird, but elsewhere in its range it can occur from the lowlands to an altitude of 4,000 m (13,000 ft).[5][6]

This species is often found in small flocks when not breeding. The blue-and-white swallow subsists primarily on a diet of insects, caught in the air; they have been seen to gather where termites swarm.[7] The flight is typically fluttery, and this swallow frequently perches on wires or branches.[5]

The blue-and-white swallow's shallow straw nest is built by both adults in a wide range of natural or man-made cavities include tree holes, rock crevices and bridges. The clutch is up to six white eggs in the south of the range, two or three in the north, which are incubated by both parents for 15 days to hatching. The nestlings are fed by both parents for 26 days to fledging, bur return to the nest to sleep with the parents for up to two months. There may be two broods.[5]

This common and popular species has benefited greatly from deforestation and human settlement which have increased the amount of suitable habitat and food.[5] Consequently, it is not considered threatened by the IUCN.[8][3]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Pygochelidon cyanoleuca". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T22712122A94320878. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22712122A94320878.en. Retrieved 10 November 2017. 
  2. ^ ffrench, Richard; O'Neill, John Patton; Eckelberry, Don R. (1991). A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd ed.). Ithaca, N.Y.: Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2. 
  3. ^ a b "Species factsheet: Pygochelidon cyanoleuca". BirdLife International. 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Vieillot, Louis Jean Pierre (1817). Nouveau dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle [New Dictionary of Natural History] (in French). 14 (nouvelle ed.). p. 509. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Turner, Angela; Rose, Chris (1989). Swallows and martins: an identification guide and handbook. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-51174-7. 
  6. ^ Stiles, F. Gary; Skutch, Alexander F. (1989). A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publishing Associates. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4. 
  7. ^ Olson, Storrs L.; Alvarenga, Herculano M.F. (2006). "An extraordinary feeding assemblage of birds at a termite swarm in the Serra da Mantiqueira, São Paulo, Brazil" (PDF). Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia. Sociedade Brasileira de Ornitologia. 14 (3): 297–299. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2008. 
  8. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Pygochelidon cyanoleuca". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sheldon, F.H.; Whittingham, L.A.; Moyle, R.G.; Slikas, B.; Winkler, D.W. (2005). "Phylogeny of swallows (Aves: Hirundinidae) estimated from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequencing". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 35 (1): 254–270. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.11.008. 
  • Stiles, F. Gary (September 2007). "Proposal 314: Revise the generic limits of Neotropical swallows". South American Classification Committee of the American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 

External links[edit]