Bird Families

Rock swallow, feathered climber


  • The African rock swallow (Latin Ptyonoprogne fuligula) is a species of small passerine birds from the swallow family (Hirundinidae).

They live in Africa and Southwest Asia east to Pakistan. It breeds mainly in the mountains, but also at lower altitudes, especially in rocky areas and in the vicinity of the city, and, unlike most swallows, often far from the water. The bird is 12-15 cm long, and mostly has brown plumage, paler in tone on the upper chest and underwing plumage. Males and females are similar.

External signs of the rock swallow

The rock swallow has a body length of 140 - 150 mm. The wingspan reaches 32.0 - 34.5 cm. The weight is 17 - 30 grams. The color of the plumage on the back is gray-gray. The upper part of the head is brown. Uppertail is reddish. The tail is brown, wide, with a small notch along the edge.

Rocky swallow (Ptyonoprogne rupestris).

Some tail feathers have an oval white spot. The underside of the body is light with an ocher tinge. The throat is white with dark specks. The upper part of the breast is brownish-gray with dark specks.

The rock swallow is similar to the shore swallow with a brownish tint of plumage.

In flight, the rock swallow is identified by a dark underside with brown under its wings. Males and females practically do not differ in color of plumage.

Spread of the rock swallow

The rock swallow is found in Eurasia. The distribution boundary runs at 48 ° north latitude. In Russia, it lives in Altai, the Caucasus, Tuva. up to an altitude of 3500 m above sea level. m. Spends winter in the south of the territory, distributed from the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Rock swallow habitat

The Rocky Swallow lives in mountainous areas on sunny, unforested slopes. Inhabits sea coasts. Rises to a height of 1.8 - 2 thousand meters. Inhabits gorges, underground galleries, under bridges, viaducts, in villages under the roofs of houses.

The rock swallow has an inconspicuous feather color.

Rock swallow nesting and breeding

Breeding season for rocky swallows is from May to July. They arrive at nesting sites at the end of February. Rocky swallows make their nests in dry, sunny places protected from the wind. In the Northern and Eastern Alps, it nests low over a wide valley.

In the Southern and Western Alps, he chooses higher places, but always avoids the northern slopes. Rock swallow colonies are small, usually 2-5 breeding pairs. It is extremely rare to find a cluster of 15 or more bird families.

Birds build a nest under cornices, bridges, rock ledges, and sometimes under the ridge of a building on a busy street in the town. Lumps of clay, tightly adhered to each other, serve as a building material. The entrance is located on the upper side. Feathers, animal hair, horse hair, wood fibers serve as a lining. The female lays 3 - 4 eggs, each in one day.

They are elliptical. The shell color is white with gray and red streaks, sparsely scattered over the surface, forming clusters only at the blunt end. Incubation lasts about 2 weeks. Only the female warms the clutch; the male does not even bring her food. Chick development lasts 24 - 28 days.

Mountain swallows do not form numerous colonies.

For the next two weeks, parents feed their offspring with insects. A second laying is possible under favorable weather conditions. Then the fledglings leave the nest in early October. Young swallows are able to fly 24-25 days after their appearance.

Unkempt nests and droppings constantly falling down, lumps of dirt spoil the appearance of buildings in cities and towns, stain the walls, giving a sloppy look to houses and buildings. In addition, the droppings, dissolving in water during rain, form compounds that corrode the walls of ancient buildings. Therefore, architectural monuments of historical importance are protected with special nets, in the presence of which rocky swallows will not be able to build nests.

The preferred place for the nest of the rocky swallow is the purlins of the roof of the house.

Features of the behavior of the rock swallow

The Rocky Swallow is not a very noisy bird; it does not form large flocks. It catches insects on the fly, making continuous movements in different directions along the surface of the rocks. The rock swallow rarely rises high in the air, and during flight alternates vertical ascents up with a sharp dive down.

This species of birds almost always keeps near the steep slopes of the mountains. When a person appears, she does not show signs of fright, perhaps because she did not come across people who rarely climb rock surfaces. In winter, it endures unfavorable conditions, falling into a daze. With the onset of warmth, it becomes active and constantly feeds in the air.

The clutch of a mountain swallow consists of 3-5 light speckled eggs.

Rock swallow feeding

Rock swallows catch insects: mosquitoes, flies, butterflies. Prey catches up on the fly. They don't sit on the ground.

Conservation status of the rock swallow

The rock swallow is protected by the Berne Convention (Appendix II).

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