The Blue Swallow has a Red Data listing of Critically Endangered and is feared to be the bird most likely to become extinct next in South Africa. The reason for its decline is loss of habitat due to pine plantations that grow favourably in the warm wet mountainous areas of southern Africa. There are 81 known active Blue Swallow nests in Southern Africa. In 1996, conservation authorities for the first time, found a further three nesting sites near Haenertsburg. The Earthwatch surveys of 2004 and 2005 brought the number of nest sites up to seven. Unfortunately Blue Swallows have not been seen at these sites since 2004. This is attributed to a cold front in October 2004 that may have chased or killed off the birds or the late rains, which would have affected availability of insect food and mud for nest building. The Blue Swallow Working Group remains positive that the birds will return. The sites are checked annually by volunteers
In South Africa, Blue Swallows, breed exclusively within two afromontane grassland habitat types ,namely the Eastern Mountain Sourveld and Natal Mist Veld. The birds arrive in Southern Africa from East Africa in spring in order to breed.
The nest consists of a cup of mud mixed with fine grass, rootlets and feathers, stuck to the wall of a pothole, donga, old mine shaft or Ant Bear burrow. The nest is about 40 to 100 cm below the ground and has a clear flight path, which is unobstructed by vegetation.
Ø There are probably only 1500 Southern Ground Hornbills in South Africa—half of which are in the protected areas of the Kruger National Park.
Groups consist of 2—9 birds, of which there is only 1 breeding female, from which, an average of only 1 chick is raised to adulthood every 9 years
Over the past 50 years Ground Hornbills have lost over 70% of their natural habitat :
Ø Loss of habitat due to farming/agriculture and cattle
Ø Indirect poisoning
Ø Indirect trapping and snaring
Ø Shooting for window breaking
Ø Loss of large nesting trees
Ø The trade in exotic birds
Ø Increase in ancient cultural uses
The Mabula Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project has been actively managing the project to prevent the decline of the Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) in the Savannah biome of South Africa since 1999.
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Blue Swallows are often mistaken for Black Saw-wing Swallows. It differs from the Black Saw-wing Swallow that it has blue (not slightly glossed greenish black) plumage, and long tail streamers (in male), as well as by its much more dynamic flight action.