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Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea

IUCN Red List Criteria

Critically Endangered  
Endangered  
Vulnerable C2a(i) 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Vulnerable
2008 Vulnerable
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable
1988 Near Threatened

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type continent
Average mass 13.8 g

Distribution

  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 104,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 104,000 medium
Number of locations 11-100 -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 1000-2499 medium Estimated 2010
Population trend Decreasing good -
Number of subpopulations 3 - - -
Largest subpopulation 770 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 4 - - -
Population justification: The total population has declined by an estimated 36-56% since the 1850s, and is now estimated at 1,006 pairs or 2,012 individuals (Evans and Bouwman 2010). Estimated numbers of breeding pairs should be treated with caution, as when nests are surveyed they are assumed to indicate one breeding pair each, which may not be the case in this facultative cooperative breeder, and it has been observed that some nests are not used after construction (J. Wakelin in litt. 2007). It is placed in the band 1,000-2,499 mature individuals, equating to 1,500-3,749 individuals in total, rounded here to 1,500-4,000 individuals.
Trend justification: There is evidence that it has declined as a breeding species throughout its range (S. W. Evans in litt. 2007), owing to the widespread conversion and degradation of its grassland and wetland habitats. The rate of population decline is thought to be under 30% over ten years (S. W. Evans in litt. 2007).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant       Yes
Kenya Native Extant   Yes    
Malawi Native Extant Yes      
Mozambique Native Extant Yes      
South Africa Native Extant Yes      
Swaziland Native Extant Yes      
Tanzania Native Extant Yes      
Uganda Native Extant   Yes    
Zambia Native Extant Yes      
Zimbabwe Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Upemba National Park site factsheet
Kenya Busia grasslands site factsheet
Kenya Ruma National Park site factsheet
Malawi Misuku Hills Forest Reserves site factsheet
Malawi Mount Mulanje Forest Reserve site factsheet
Malawi Ntchisi Mountain Forest Reserve site factsheet
Malawi Nyika National Park (Malawi) site factsheet
Malawi South Viphya Forest Reserve site factsheet
Mozambique Chimanimani Mountains (Mozambique) site factsheet
Mozambique Gorongosa Mountain and National Park site factsheet
South Africa Blue Swallow Natural Heritage Site site factsheet
South Africa Blyde River Canyon site factsheet
South Africa Graskop Grasslands site factsheet
South Africa Impendle Nature Reserve site factsheet
South Africa KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Grasslands site factsheet
South Africa Mac-Mac Escarpment and Forests site factsheet
South Africa Wolkberg Forest Belt site factsheet
Swaziland Malolotja Nature Reserve site factsheet
Tanzania Kitulo plateau site factsheet
Tanzania Livingstone Mountains forests site factsheet
Tanzania Minziro Forest Reserve site factsheet
Tanzania Mount Rungwe site factsheet
Tanzania Njombe forests site factsheet
Tanzania Udzungwa Mountains site factsheet
Tanzania Umalila Mountains site factsheet
Uganda Kyambura Wildlife Reserve site factsheet
Uganda Mabamba Bay site factsheet
Uganda Nabajjuzi Wetland site factsheet
Uganda Sango Bay area site factsheet
Zambia Mutinondo Wilderness site factsheet
Zambia Nyika National Park (Zambia) site factsheet
Zimbabwe Bvumba Highlands site factsheet
Zimbabwe Chimanimani Mountains (Zimbabwe) site factsheet
Zimbabwe Nyanga lowlands/Honde valley site factsheet
Zimbabwe Nyanga mountains site factsheet
Zimbabwe Stapleford Forest site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry major non-breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude major breeding
Savanna Dry suitable breeding
Savanna Dry suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable non-breeding
Altitude 1000 - 3000 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops / Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops / Small-holder farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching / Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching / Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Wood & pulp plantations / Agro-industry plantations Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Other impacts Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Minority (<50%) Causing/Could cause fluct Low Impact: 3
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success
Energy production & mining Mining & quarrying Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 3
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Species disturbance, Reduced reproductive success
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / Unspecified species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases / Unspecified species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation
Natural system modifications Dams & water management/use / Abstraction of surface water (unknown use) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Natural system modifications Fire & fire suppression / Trend Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Pollution Air-borne pollutants / Type Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Unknown Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Unknown
Stresses
None
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Decline Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Hirundo atrocaerulea. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and martins)
Species name author Sundevall, 1850
Population size 1000-2499 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 104,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change