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Welcome Swallow

(Hirundo neoxena)
Alternate name(s): "House Swallow*", "Australian Swallow"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "neoxena": "baringbah"; Race "carteri": "koonamit", "boodibring", "kabritj"

Size: 14-15 cm
Weight: 13-17 g


Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Welcome Swallow at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information


Race "neoxena"


Sex unknown

Frontal view of an adult Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Lateral view of a Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2011]

Welcome Swallow with its head turned
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2007]

This near-dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow shows particularly well the blue-black sheen of the plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast, QLD, February 2014]

Dorsal view of a Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2006]

Small flock of Welcome Swallows resting and preening
[Goran Lake, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Welcome Swallow in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2019]

Ventral view of a Welcome Swallow in flight (photo courtesy of R. Druce)


Frontal view of a juvenile Welcome Swallow - note the yellow gape (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Forest Lake, Brisbane, QLD, December 2016]

Near-lateral view of a juvenile Welcome Swallow (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Wynnum, QLD, December 2017]

Near-lateral view of a juvenile Welcome Swallow stretching and basking in the sun
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2020]

Lateral view of a juvenile Welcome Swallow waiting to be fed (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Forest Lake, Brisbane, QLD, December 2016]

Juvenile Welcome Swallow being fed by one of its parents (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Forest Lake, Brisbane, QLD, December 2016]

Feeding time for two young Welcome Swallows, with one of their parents approaching from the left with something it its bill
[Yarrie Lake near Wee Waa, NSW, October 2011]

Adult Welcome Swallow (right) with one of two chicks on their first outing, two hours after fledging
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2013]

Family of Welcome Swallows preening (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Close-up near-lateral view of a juvenile Welcome Swallow (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Young Welcome Swallow waiting to be fed
[O'Brien's Creek, Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Frontal view of a fledgling Welcome Swallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2015]

Welcome Swallow chick on its first outing; later that night all four chicks return to their nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2012]

Here a "complete set" of four Welcome Swallow chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

The same "complete set" of four Welcome Swallow chicks, seen from behind
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Race "carteri"


Sex unknown

Pair of Welcome Swallows, race "carteri", at their nest (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Herdsman Lake, Perth, WA, December 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 4 - 6 Incubation period: 14 - 16 days Fledging age: ca. 14 days

Welcome Swallows can, given the right conditions, breed any time of the year. They can nest in colonies, but also on their own. Pairs often have more than one clutch per breeding season. The nest and eggs shown above where photographed at the start of August, that is winter in our region, when the birds were getting off to an early start. A pair nesting in an empty water tank at our former neighbour's place at the same time tells us that this is not a singular occurrence. Male and female share the incubation and feeding duties. During the breeding season adult birds will roost on or in the nest.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Mud bowl Material: Mud with feather lining Height above ground: Various

Nests can be at heights of up to several metres, but may also be attached to surfaces of culverts that are below ground level.

During the summers of 2006/07 and 2007/08 we had a nest under the awning of the roof of our home 20 km east of Narrabri. This nest was re-used annually, until the 2011/12 breeding season. No significant changes were made to the clay bowl; only new lining was used. Duck feathers, mostly of Australian Wood Ducks are used, which are a very effective insulation material.

Welcome Swallow feeding four chicks
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

View from the other side of the Welcome Swallow nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

Curious Welcome Swallow chicks peeking over the rim of the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2007]

This Welcome Swallow chick was the first to start sitting on the edge of the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Here a Welcome Swallow inspecting an old nest in the middle of winter
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2010]

This is a more "avant garde"-style Welcome Swallow nest (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Welcome Swallows collecting mud in a coastal intertidal mudflat
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, August 2015]

Welcome Swallows collecting mud on red soil (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 19 x 13 mm Colour: Pale creamy with light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

View (with the help of a mirror) into a neatly feather-lined nest with four eggs in it; all four chicks were raised successfully
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2012]


Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory/ dispersive/ sedentary Elementary unit: Pair/flock

Welcome Swallows will leave an area during mild to severe night frosts. They can thereby serve as a good indicator for the severity of a winter to come. If they stay around, temperatures will usually not drop below -2 to -3 C.

Welcome Swallows on a rockshelf at the end of winter 2012, possibly congregating to migrate to the North
[Bundjalung NP, NSW, February 2012]

Welcome Swallows are one of the bird species that do not bathe. Instead, to rid themselves of parasitic animals, they bask in the sun, as shown below.

Welcome Swallow basking in the sun
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2014]

Welcome Swallows basking in the sun on a concrete bridge
[Pilliga, NSW, December 2020]

Welcome Swallows are creatures of habit - they always roost in the exact-same position (which makes the droppings form a neat pile; in this case under a narrow rock ledge in a cave)
[Pilliga NR, NSW, August 2015]

Food, Diet

Adults: Small insects Dependents: As adults Water intake: Daily(?)

Like all other swallows known to us, Welcome Swallows are insect hunters. They feed in-flight on small insects.

Welcome Swallows hunting for insects above the water of an inland fresh water lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2016]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

The variety and complexity of calls used by Welcome Swallows demonstrates that they are songbirds (as opposed to various species of swifts, which are non-passerines).

There is now a separate page with recordings of chicks in their nest.

welcome_20140109_2.mp3 neoxena
Contact call © MD
welcome_20140112.mp3 neoxena
Warning call © MD
welcome_20150327.mp3 neoxena
Alarm calls (in-flight) © MD
welcome_20140912_2.mp3 neoxena
Alarm calls to chicks (cat) © MD
welcome_20140403.mp3 neoxena
Hunting (in-flight) © MD
welcome_20140409.mp3 neoxena
First call (dawn) © MD
welcome_20140220.mp3 neoxena
? © MD
Click here for more recordings

More Welcome Swallow sound recordings are available at .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.