Species of swallows occur almost worldwide, with the exception of the high Arctic tundra, Antarctica, and some isolated oceanic islands. Almost 30 species of swallows breed in Africa, and others migrate to winter there after breeding in Europe or Asia. Australia is home to four endemic species, while North America has nine species in six genera, and Central and South America have about 20 species. On a local scale, however, the distribution of swallows is usually rather patchy, depending on the presence of key habitat elements, particularly nesting sites.

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