Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)

Lesser Striped Swallows are small, 6.5" (17cm) birds with bold black stripes on their white underparts, from the neck, reaching as far back as the white tail underparts. They have orange-red head, rump and back. Mantle is metallic blue and wings & long tail feathers are paler glossy blue-grey. The underparts of the long outer tail feathers show white spots, when spread out.

Lesser Striped Swallows are generally seen in loose flocks, over open savanna or cultivated areas. They are confiding birds and pairs often build mud nests beneath overhangs of human dwellings or bridges. Nests are often re-used each year, even if they require repair first. Both birds build, but only the female incubates the 3 eggs. Incubation is around 18 days and the chicks fledge after a further 18 days. The chicks return to the nest and the parents continue to feed them for up to a month.

Lesser Striped Swallows hawk insects in the air. They have wide mouths, with bristles, scooping insects with ease. Occasionally, they take small fruit and seeds, or caterpillars, from a perched position or hovering beside a tree.

Lesser Striped Swallows are seen in central, west and south of Kenya and are common residents at the coast and lowland areas below 1,800 metres. Inter-African migrants, they more commonly seen in Kenya between June and August.

Extra Lesser Striped Swallow Facts
Their weak legs make catching prey on the ground impossible, although they do perch, resting for long periods.

Photographed at Kenya's Nairobi National Park.

Categories & Keywords
Subcategory Detail:
Keywords:bird, kenya, lesser striped swallow, swallow, wildlife

Lesser Striped Swallow ~ Delicately Perched

Lesser Striped Swallow balancing on a thin twig, with its head turned and looking for prey.

Lesser Striped Swallow ~ Singing

A Lesser Striped Swallow, balancing on a slender twig, singing its song "ron~ren-ren~reen~roon".

Lesser Striped Swallow ~ From Rear

A Lesser Striped Swallow, seen in April, in Kenya's Nairobi National Park.  Its back is facing the camera, showing its markings clearly.