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Common Name : Common Swallow     -       Scientific Name : Hirundo rustica       -       Other Name : Barn Swallow (E), Wehilihiniya (S)
Kali Villu
Thimbiri Wila
Thimbiri Wila

The Common Swallow is a very common migrant that can be seen throughout the island from the highest mountains to the seashores during the migrant season. It is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is found on Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The following six subspecies have been recognized in the world.

Hirundo rustica rustica is the nominate European subspecies. It breeds in Europe and Asia and migrates to winter in Africa, Arabia and the Indian subcontinent, which includes Sri Lanka.

Hirundo rustica transitive breeds in the Middle East from southern turkey to Israel and is partly resident with some birds wintering in East Africa.

Hirundo rustica savignii is a resident race in Egypt.

Hirundo rustica gutturalis breeds in Japan, Korea, central and eastern Himalayas. The East Asian birds migrate to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and New Guinea. A large population migrates to Australia as well. Birds of this race are known to hybridize with the next race H.r. tytleri in the Amur River area.

Hirundo rustica tytleri breeds in central Siberia south to northern Mongolia and migrates from eastern Bengal east to Thailand and Malaysia.

Hirundo rustica erythrogaster breeds throughout North America from Alaska to southern Mexico and migrates to Costa Rica, Panama and South America.

The most common race that winters in Sri Lanka is H.r. gutturalis. H.r.rustica and H.r.tytleri also visit the country as rare migrants.

The conservation status of this species is regarded as “Least Concerned” (IUCN Red List) and it is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

I have observed this species throughout the island. These small birds perform spectacular acrobatic flights in pursuit of their insect prey. During the migrant season thousands of these birds can be seen roosting at night on the electricity cable in the Ratnapura town. They are very common in cities, forested areas, hills and the dry lowlands.

This is one of the commonest birds seen at Wilpattu during the migrant season. During different times of the day they can be some times seen perched on the ground at localities such as Kuruttupandi Villu, Mahapatessa, Kali Villu and Kudapatessa.