Pale-footed swallow

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Pale-footed swallow
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Notiochelidon
N. flavipes
Binomial name
Notiochelidon flavipes
(Chapman, 1922, Junín, Peru)

The pale-footed swallow (Notiochelidon flavipes) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in the northern Andes, from Venezuela to Bolivia. It is monotypic.

Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. They are usually seen in small flocks, occasionally with the blue-and-white swallow.

They are classified as a least-concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Taxonomy and etymology[edit]

This swallow is monotypic.[2]

The pale-footed swallow is also known as the cloud-forest swallow, supposedly because it is known to reside in cloud forests.[2][3]


This swallow has an average length of 12 centimetres (4.7 in) and an average weight of 10.6 grams (0.37 oz). It has dark, glossy blue upperparts, with the wing, tail, and undertail coverts being more black than the rest. They have a dusky chin and a throat coloured cinnamon-buff. The white chest is tinged cinnamon-buff. The belly is also white. They have blackish-brown underwing coverts, axillars, flanks, and tibial feathers. They have a black bill with pink mouth-lining and a dark brown iris. They have a slightly notched tail. Their lower legs and toes are made of pink flesh. The sexes are similar, and the immature swallows of this species are similar, except their undertail coverts have white or pale edges.[2][3][4]

These birds are not to be confused with the very similar blue-and-white swallow, which can be differentiated by the pale-footed swallows blackish flanks, and its faster flight. The pale-footed swallow is also slightly smaller than the blue-and-white swallow.[4][5]

The pale-footed swallow has a flight call frequently described as a dzreet. Their call can be differentiated from the call of the similar blue-and-white swallow by the fact that it is drier than that of the blue-and-white swallow. These swallows also have been known to use a call described as a trilled tre-e-e-ed.[2] The song is a series of trills and thin warbles. The song is described as buzzy, but musical.[4]


Distribution map

This swallow is native to the Andes in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.[1] It usually occurs only on the eastern slopes of the Andes, but it has been recorded on both slopes in the central Andes. They usually don't go below 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) and above 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) in Ecuador, and not below 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in Peru and 2,300 metres (7,500 ft) in Bolivia. They do not usually go above 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) in both Peru and Bolivia. In Venezuela, they have much less variation in elevation, usually not going below 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) and above 2,400 metres (7,900 ft) there. They have been seen as low as 1,550 metres (5,090 ft) in Venezuela. Sometimes, in bad weather, they can be seen at lower altitudes. They are recorded to mainly reside in forests, especially humid ones.[4] They are most likely resident to their range.[2][3]



Although when the females are fertile is unknown, it is known that the males are usually in breeding condition from July to September.[2] It is likely that both males and females incubate the eggs.[3]

This swallow most likely nests in burrows, like the similar blue-and-white swallow, in mossy cavities or in cavities created in roads. They prefer both subtropical and tropical montane forests and the upper cloud forest, avoiding clearings.[5] They also prefer elfin forests, usually residing just above the altitudes where the blue-and-white swallow resides, in comparably more forested areas.[2][3]


The pale-footed swallow is an aerial insectivore, eating insects in the air, usually over, and sometimes through, the forest canopy. They also forage over nearby clearings.[5] Their flight is usually quick, low, and erratic. They are known to backtrack numerous times. These swallows usually forage in groups of 10—15, but sometimes 50 birds can be seen together.They usually don't perch, but when they do, they usually perch on bare, dead limbs of forest trees. They have been seen to forage with the similar blue-and-white swallow and the brown-bellied swallow.[2][4][3][5]


This swallow is classified as least-concern by the IUCN. The justification for this is the fact that the population is stable, there are most likely more than 10,000 adults of this species, and they have a large range. The breeding range is estimated to be 2,730,000 square kilometres (1,050,000 sq mi). The population size is unknown, but it is apparently fairly common.[1] Although this is true, it may be overlooked because of how similar it is to the blue-and-white swallow.[2][5]


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Notiochelidon flavipes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Turner, Angela (2013). del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Sargatal, Jordi; Christie, David A.; de Juana, Eduardo (eds.). "Pale-footed Swallow (Notiochelidon flavipes)". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Turner, Angela K; Rose, Chris (1989). Swallows & Martins: An Identification Guide and Handbook. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 113–114. ISBN 0-395-51174-7.
  4. ^ a b c d e Schulenberg, Thomas S.; Johnson, Tom (2012). Thomas S. Schulenberg (ed.). "Pale-footed Swallow (Orochelidon flavipes), Neotropical Birds Online". Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Ridgely, Robert (2009). Field guide to the songbirds of South America : the passerines. Austin, TX Philadelphia Washington, DC: University of Texas Press in association with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia World Land Trust-US. ISBN 9780292717480.

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.