House martin

Delichon urbica

SUBFAMILY

Hirundinae

TAXONOMY

Hirundo urbica Linnaeus, 1758. Six geographic subspecies are recognized.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common house-martin, northern house-martin; French: Hirondelle de fenêtre; German: Mehlschwalbe; Spanish: Avión Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

5.5 in (14 cm). It is colored glossy purple-brownish on the back and white below, with a white rump and a forked tail.

DISTRIBUTION

Breeds widely in Eurasia, from Britain through to Japan and the Koreas, and including part of northern North Africa. It

migrates to spend the non-breeding season in central and southern Africa, South Asia, and southeastern China.

HABITAT

Occurs in open areas, usually close to water, and also in towns and residential areas.

BEHAVIOR

It migrates to spend the non-breeding season in southern parts of its range. Attracts a mate and defends a nest site by song and aerial displays.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on flying insects, which are caught on the wing.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. The nest is a half-cup of mud with an oval entrance at the top and is built against a vertical wall under an overhanging roof. It is usually placed on a building in an open area, but the species also breeds on natural cliff faces. Both sexes incubate the four to five eggs and there are often two broods per season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. A widespread and abundant species.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The house martin is a popular bird for many people. It lives in close association with humans and has likely benefited from this relationship and become more abundant than in former times. ♦

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