Confusion between the two intra-African swallow migrants encountered during the summer months has precipitated this ID related note and supporting images illustrating the key distinguishing features between the two species.
The Lesser Striped Swallow is smaller in appearance, as the description implies in relation to the Greater Stripe-breasted Swallow, and has well defined black streaks on the breast and a bright rufous crown. Range preference is mainly low altitude regions to the east of SA associated with perennial rivers and streams providing bridge or culvert nesting opportunities.
Greater Striped Swallows are widespread favouring the west of the country and extending to the higher lying grassland areas as well as coastal regions in the Western Cape. Breast markings are more subtle consisting of fine grey pencil line streaks down the breast in comparison to the darker breast streaks of the Lesser Striped Swallow. The crown is also lighter in colour and the general appearance is heavier in flight and less agile than its smaller counterpart.
Nest sites are similar in preference between the two species with under eave situations a popular choice for the closed mud nest and access tunnel.
Both species overlap one another in the east of the country sharing similar habitats and nesting sites and this may give rise to confusion which constitutes the purpose of this note and supporting images featuring both species and the key diagnostic features to look out for.
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