Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea


Justification of Red List category
This species has a small, declining population arranged in few, small subpopulations and consequently qualifies as Vulnerable. It became extinct on Jamaica at the end of the 20th century and is continuing to decline with increasing fragmentation and degradation of habitat and likely due to the impacts of introduced predators on reproduction. While the current rate of reduction is thought to be slow, previous very rapid declines indicate that there is a need for better monitoring of the remaining populations.

Population justification

This species is described as locally common (Turner and de Juana, 2020). Based on this, taking the lowest of seven estimates for congeners, including Lesser Striped-swallow Hirundo abyssinica and Rufous-chested Swallow Hirundo semirufa of 2 individuals/km2 (Vernon 1985), and assuming it inhabits 20% of the forest within its range (9,380 km2 [Global Forest Watch 2021]), the population is may be 3,752 individuals. This is roughly equivalent to 2,500 mature individuals. The population is therefore estimated to fall in the band 2,000-3,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Population trends have shown evidence of decline over the past few decades, owing to habitat loss and degradation from shifting agriculture and predation by invasive mammals (Dod 1992, Keith et al. 2003, Townsend 2006). No data are available to estimate recent population trends, however, this species is suspected to be declining in line with ongoing habitat loss and degradation. Data from Global Forest Watch (2021) showed that forest cover throughout the species's range declined by 4.7% over the last three generations (10 years). Based on forest loss data between 2017-2020 (Global Forest Watch 2021), and projected forward over three generations, the species habitat is likely to decline by <2%. With the additional threat of invasive predators, the species is suspected to be declining at a rate of between 1-19% over three generations.

Distribution and population

The species occurs in the Greater Antilles. The nominate subspecies of Jamaica is now likely extinct, having not been recorded since 1989 (Raffaele et al. 1998, D. Wege in litt. 2011, Graves 2014, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 2014, C.J. Proctor in litt. 2015, Proctor et al. 2017). In Jamaica, it was known from Colfax County and the Blue Mountains (Raffaele et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). The race sclateri is locally common in the highlands of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, especially in the Cordillera Central, Sierra de Bahoruco, Massif de la Hotte and Massif de la Selle (Turner and Rose 1989, Dod 1992, Dávalos and Brooks 2001, Rimmer et al. 2005). The population has declined dramatically (King 1981, Downer 1982, Raffaele et al. 1998). The species is thought to be increasingly restricted to isolated remnant patches of montane forest dominated by Hispaniolan pine (Pinus occidentalis) (Keith et al. 2003, Latta et al. 2006, Townsend et al. 2008).


The species occupies montane Hispaniolan Pine (Pinus occidentalis) and mixed pine-broadleaf forests, from 800 to 2,000 m on Hispaniola and down to sea level on Jamaica. It has been found in good secondary forest and sometimes feeds over open country, savannah and agricultural areas (Osburn 1858, Stattersfield et al. 1998, BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998, Townsend et al. 2008). It forages singly or in small groups, feeding on small insects (Osburn 1858, 1869). Nests are traditionally built in old woodpecker and other holes in dead pines, but have been recorded in caves (Osburn 1869), boulders in an old bauxite mine (G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1998, Townsend et al. 2008) and in the eaves of buildings (Wetmore and Lincoln 1933). Six nests in an abandoned bauxite mine in the Sierra de Baoruco contained 2-4 eggs, and hatchlings took 21-24 days to fledge; half of these nests were predated (Townsend et al. 2008).


Shifting agriculture has caused severe forest loss and fragmentation on Hispaniola (Raffaele et al. 1998, Stattersfield et al. 1998) and forest loss throughout the species's range is currently estimated at <5% across the stipulated 10 year period (Global Forest Watch 2021). Reasons for declines in Jamaica are unknown (Raffaele et al. 1998), but habitat loss and predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly the Black Rat Rattus rattus has been implicated (Graves 2014), with rats still present on Hispaniola (Townsend et al. 2018). Competition for nest-sites with introduced Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris has been suggested as a possible cause (King 1981, Turner and Rose 1989); however this is considered unlikely, as starlings only occur at lower elevations (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Jamaica (Turner and Rose 1989). Remaining forest in Cockpit Country is mostly protected, and habitat in the Blue and John Crow Mountains is a national park (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). These reserves are not managed and habitat protection is inadequate (Stattersfield et al. 1998), but funding is actively being sought for the effective conservation of Cockpit Country (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Montane forest is poorly represented in the Dominican Republic's protected-areas system (Stattersfield et al. 1998), but 15 new areas have been recently proposed, including six in montane forest. In Haiti, it occurs in both La Visite and Macaya national parks (Woods and Ottenwalder 1986).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to identify breeding sites throughout its range (BirdLife Jamaica in litt. 1998). Officially designate the proposed protected areas in the Dominican Republic (Turner and Rose 1989). Consider the provision of carefully designed and situated nest-boxes (Turner and Rose 1989, Townsend et al. 2008). Design and implement management plans for key reserves.


12 cm. Iridescent, bronzy green-and-white swallow. Upperparts (including ear-coverts, malar area and chin) shining bronzy-green (most bronze on mantle), with darker, dusky bronzy-green primaries and tail. White underparts. Female sometimes lightly mottled grey-brown below. Juvenile less glossy and more mottled below with dusky grey sides of head. Voice Soft, two-note tchee weet. Hints Often flies low over the ground, darting after insects.


Text account compilers
Hermes, C., Everest, J., Wheatley, H., Clark, J.

BirdLife Jamaica, Capper, D., Hornbuckle, J., Khwaja, N., Kirwan, G.M., Mahood, S., Pople, R., Sharpe, C.J., Townsend, J. & Wege, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Tachycineta euchrysea. Downloaded from on 25/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/02/2024.