Asian house martin

The Asian house martin (Delichon dasypus) is a migratory passerine bird of the swallow family Hirundinidae. It has mainly blue-black upperparts, other than its white rump, and has pale grey underparts. Its three subspecies breed in the Himalayas and in central and eastern Asia, and spend the winter lower in the mountains or in Southeast Asia. This species is locally abundant and is expanding northward in Siberia, so there are no concerns about its conservation status.

This martin breeds in colonies, building mud nests under an overhang on a vertical cliff or the wall of a building. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the three or four white eggs and feed the chicks. The Asian house martin feeds on small insects taken in flight, usually caught high in the air. The presence of terrestrial springtails and Lepidoptera larvae in its diet indicates that food is sometime picked from the ground.

Asian house martin
three swallow-like birds with black upperparts and white underparts standing on muddy ground
In Taiwan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Delichon
D. dasypus
Binomial name
Delichon dasypus
(Bonaparte, 1850)
Yellow – breeding range
Blue – wintering range


The Asian house martin was first formally described from a bird collected in Borneo by French naturalist and ornithologist Charles Lucien Bonaparte in 1850 as Chelidon dasypus,[2][3] shortly before it was moved to the new genus Delichon by British entomologist Frederic Moore and American naturalist Thomas Horsfield in 1854.[4] Delichon is an anagram of the Ancient Greek term χελιδών (chelīdōn), meaning "swallow",[5] and dasypus is from Greek δασύπους "rough-legged". This martin's closest relatives are the two other members of the genus Delichon, the Nepal house martin and the common house martin.[6] There are three subspecies:[7]

  • D. d. dasypus, the nominate subspecies described by Bonaparte, which breeds in eastern Russia and nearby islands
  • D. d. cashmeriensis, the Himalayan and central Asian form described by English ornithologist John Gould in 1858 from a Kashmiri specimen obtained by Andrew Leith Adams[8]
  • D. d. nigrimentalis, the form which is found in the south east of the breeding range, was described by German ornithologist Ernst Hartert in 1910 from a specimen taken in Fujian, southeast China.[9]
Asian House Martin East district Sikkim India 24.09.2018
D. d. cashmeriensis from Sikkim, India.


The adult Asian house martin of the nominate subspecies is 12 cm (4.7 in) long, dark steel blue above with a contrasting white rump, grey-washed white underparts, and a slightly forked tail. The tail and upperwings are brownish-black, and the underwings are grey-brown. The legs and feet are brownish-pink and covered with white feathers, the eyes are brown, and the bill is black.[7] There are few differences in appearance between the sexes, although the male is somewhat whiter below than the female, especially in fresh plumage. The juvenile bird is less glossy and has dark brown upperparts, sometimes with a brownish wash to the rump, and grey-white underparts.[10]

D. d. cashmiriensis has brighter blue upperparts and a whiter rump than the slightly larger nominate race. The third, smallest, race is D. d. nigrimentalis.[7] All three subspecies can be distinguished from the similar Nepal house martin by the latter species' black chin, black undertail coverts and much squarer tail. The Asian house martin is more similar to the common house martin, but is darker underneath and has a less deeply forked tail.[7] Confusion is most likely between adult male Asian house martins, which have paler underparts, and the eastern race of common house martin, D. urbicum lagopodum which has a less forked tail than the western subspecies, although it still shows a more pronounced fork than Asian.[7]

This species’ song is a rippling metallic trill, and is a sibilant twitter, and call is a dry metallic cheep, often with two or three syllables. It is similar to that of common house martin, but more rasping.[10]

Distribution and habitat

The nominate subspecies of the Asian house martin, D. d. dasypus, breeds in the southeast of Russia, the Kuril Islands, Japan and sometimes Korea. It migrates through eastern China to winter in the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, the Philippines, Java and Sumatra; a few birds remain around hot springs in Japan. D. d. cashmeriensis breeds in the Himalayas from Afghanistan east to Sikkim and northwards into Tibet and western and central China.[7] It is found between 1,500–5,000 m (4,900–16,400 ft) altitude, although mainly in the 2,400–4,000 m (7,900–13,100 ft) range.[10] This martin is a short-range migrant, mainly wintering at lower altitudes in the foothills of the Himalayas, but with some birds on the plains of North-eastern India and North-eastern and South-eastern Bangladesh, and smaller numbers further afield in Myanmar and northern Thailand. The third race, D. d. nigrimentalis, breeds in southeastern China and southern Siberia. Its wintering grounds are unknown,[7] but birds in Taiwan just move to lower altitudes in winter.[11] Non-breeding Asian house martin have been recorded as far west as the United Arab Emirates.[12] The range of D. d. cashmeriensis overlaps with that of the Nepal house martin, although they breed at somewhat different altitudes. The height separation and the small differences in appearance seem sufficient to prevent interbreeding.[13]

The preferred habitat of the Asian house martin is valleys and gorges in mountainous areas or coastal cliffs, where natural caves or crevices provide nest sites. It will also breed on large man-made sites like temples, hotels or power stations.[7] This martin tends to move to lower altitude open or hilly country in its wintering areas, although it has been recorded at up to 2,565 m (8,415 ft) in Thailand.[14]



Birds collecting nest material in Hokkaido, Japan. On the left a bird is pulling up muddy grass

Delichon dasypus -Hokkaido -Japan -collecting nest material-8b
Delichon dasypus -Hokkaido -Japan -collecting nest material-8a

The Asian house martin is a cliff nester, breeding in colonies sited under an overhang on a vertical cliff, usually with the nests not touching. It also frequently nests on large buildings such as temples and bridges, but not to the same extent as the common house martin. The nest is a deep mud cone lined with grasses or feathers.[7] Unlike its relatives, the Asian house martin frequently does not complete the enclosure of its nest, leaving it open instead like a deeper version of a barn swallow nest. A Russian study found half the nests in its Baikal research area to be of the open type,[15] and the Himalayan subspecies D. d. cashmiriensis has also been recorded as building a shallow cup nest.[16][17]

The normal clutch is three or four (occasionally up to six) plain white eggs averaging 20.2 mm × 14.1 mm (0.80 in × 0.56 in) and weighing 2.1 g (0.074 oz).[18] The incubation and fledging times are unknown, but are probably similar to those of the common house martin, which has an incubation period of 14 to 16 days until the eggs hatch, and a further 22 to 32 days to fledging. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.[7]


This martin feeds on insects taken in flight. As with its relatives it tends to feed high in the air, taking mostly small flies, aphid and Hymenoptera such as winged ants. A wide range of other insects are caught, including Lepidoptera, beetles and lacewings. The presence in the diet of terrestrial springtails and Lepidoptera larvae indicate that food is sometime picked from the ground.[7]

Predators and parasites

Birds often carry parasites, both external lice and fleas, and internal blood parasites. The Asian house martin is a host of the house martin flea Ceratophyllus hirundinis,[19] and has recently been shown to carry signs of avian malaria.[20] The predators of this martin appear to be little studied, but are presumably similar to those of the common house martin, namely fast flying falcons such as Oriental hobby which can chase down their prey in flight.[21]

Conservation status

The Asian house martin has a large range that does not appear to be contracting, and its numbers appear to be stable, although the total population is unknown. Since the range is more than 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi), and there are more 10,000 mature individuals, in the absence of any large decline in distribution or numbers the species does not appear to meet the criteria to be considered vulnerable, and is currently evaluated as Least Concern.[22] This species is locally abundant and appears to be expanding its range northwards in southern Siberia.[7]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Delichon dasypus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Bonaparte, Charles Lucien (1850). Conspectus generum avium (in Latin). Lugduni Batavorum (Leyden): E.J. Brill. p. 343.
  3. ^ Bonaparte's nomenclature is confusing, and he may have intended Hirundo dasypus. See Dickinson, Edward C.; Loskot, V.M.; Morioka H.; Somadikarta, S.; van den Elzen, R. (December 2006). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 50. Types of the Aegithalidae, Remizidae and Paridae". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 80 (5): 108. Appendix 1
  4. ^ Moore, F.; Horsfield T. (1854). A catalogue of the birds in the museum of the East-India Company, volume 1. London; Wm. H. Allen & Co. p. 384.
  5. ^ "House Martin Delichon urbicum (Linnaeus, 1758)". Bird facts. British Trust for Ornithology. Retrieved 2008-01-24.
  6. ^ "ITIS Standard Report Page: Delichon". The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). Retrieved 2008-01-23.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Turner, Angela K; Rose, Chris (1989). A handbook to the swallows and martins of the world. Christopher Helm. pp. 230–232. ISBN 0-7470-3202-5.
  8. ^ Gould, John (1858). "Description of Two New Species of the Family Hirundinidae". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Part XXVI. 369: 355–356.
  9. ^ Hartert, Ernst (1910). Die Vogel der palaarktischen Fauna. Systematische Ubersicht der in Europa, Nord-Asien un der Mittelmeerregion vorkommenden Vogel (in German). p. 810.
  10. ^ a b c Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Anderton, John C. (2005). Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 313–314. ISBN 84-87334-67-9.
  11. ^ "Yan Yan". Bird list (in Chinese). National Feng Huang Ku Bird Park. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23. Retrieved 28 December 2009
  12. ^ Al Abdessalaam, Thabit Zahran; Al Bowardi; Mohammed; Ashley-Edmonds, Jane; Aspinall, Simon (2006). The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press. p. 366. ISBN 1-905486-02-2.
  13. ^ Dickinson, Edward C.; René Dekker (2001). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 13. A preliminary review of the Hirundinidae". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 335: 138. ISSN 0024-1652.
  14. ^ Robson, Craig (2004). A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand. New Holland Press. p. 216. ISBN 1-84330-921-1.
  15. ^ Durnev, Yu A; Sirokhin I.N.; Sonin, V. D. (1983). "Materials to the ecology of Delichon dasypus (Passeriformes, Hirundinidae) on Khamar-Daban (South Baikal Territory)". Zoolicheskii Zhurnal. 62: 1541–1546.
  16. ^ Oates, Eugene W. (1890). The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. London: Tracker, Spink and Co. p. 270.
  17. ^ Murray, James (1890). The avifauna of British India and its dependencies: a systematic account. London: Trubner and Co. p. 254.
  18. ^ Data from Turner (1989) for D. d. cashmiriensis, the eggs of the other races average slightly smaller.
  19. ^ Rothschild, Miriam; Clay, Theresa (1953). Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos. A study of bird parasites. London: Collins. p. 92.
  20. ^ Kyeong Soon Kim, Kyeong Soon; Yoshio Tsuda; Akio Yamada (2009). "Bloodmeal identification and detection of avian malaria parasite from mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) inhabiting coastal areas of Tokyo Bay, Japan". Journal of Medical Entomology. 46 (5): 1230–1234. doi:10.1603/033.046.0535. PMID 19769059.
  21. ^ Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. Collins. p. 242. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
  22. ^ "Asian House-martin - BirdLife Species Factsheet". BirdLife International. retrieved 13 December 2009

Atticora is a genus of bird in the swallow family Hirundinidae. These species are found in South America.

It contains the following two species:

White-banded swallow (Atticora fasciata)

Black-collared swallow (Atticora melanoleuca)

Banded martin

The banded martin or banded sand martin (Riparia cincta) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It is an inhabitant of the African continent.

Black-and-rufous swallow

The black-and-rufous swallow (Hirundo nigrorufa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

Common house martin

The common house martin (Delichon urbicum), sometimes called the northern house martin or, particularly in Europe, just house martin, is a migratory passerine bird of the swallow family which breeds in Europe, north Africa and temperate Asia; and winters in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia. It feeds on insects which are caught in flight, and it migrates to climates where flying insects are plentiful. It has a blue head and upperparts, white rump and pure white underparts, and is found in both open country and near human habitation. It is similar in appearance to the two other martin species of the genus Delichon, which are both endemic to eastern and southern Asia. It has two accepted subspecies.

Both the scientific and colloquial name of the bird are related to its use of human-made structures. It builds a closed cup nest from mud pellets under eaves or similar locations on buildings usually in colonies.

It is hunted by the Eurasian hobby (Falco subbuteo), and like other birds is affected by internal parasites and external fleas and mites, although its large range and population mean that it is not threatened globally.


Delichon is a small genus of passerine birds that belongs to the swallow family and contains three species named as house martins. These are chunky, bull-headed and short-tailed birds, blackish-blue above with a contrasting white rump, and with white or grey underparts. They have feathering on the toes and tarsi that is characteristic of this genus. The house martins are closely related to other swallows that build mud nests, particularly the Hirundo barn swallows. They breed only in Europe, Asia and the mountains of North Africa. Two species, the common and Asian house martins, migrate south in winter, while the Nepal house martin is resident in the Himalayas year-round.

The house martins nest in colonies on cliffs or buildings, constructing feather- or grass-lined mud nests. The typical clutch is two or three white eggs; both parents build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. These martins are aerial hunters of small insects such as flies and aphids. Despite their flying skills the Delichon martins are sometimes caught by fast-flying birds of prey. They may carry fleas or internal parasites. None of the species are considered threatened, although widespread reductions in common house martin numbers have been reported from central and northern Europe. This decline is due to factors including poor weather, poisoning by agricultural pesticides, lack of mud for nest building and competition with house sparrows for nest sites.

Forest swallow

The forest swallow (Petrochelidon fuliginosa) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.

Galápagos martin

The Galápagos martin (Progne modesta) is a species of bird in the Hirundinidae family, endemic to the Galápagos Islands.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, pastureland, and heavily degraded former forest.

Grey-rumped swallow

The grey-rumped swallow (Pseudhirundo griseopyga) is a species of bird in the monotypic genus, Pseudhirundo, in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Nepal house martin

The Nepal house martin (Delichon nipalense) is a non-migratory passerine of the swallow family Hirundinidae. Its two subspecies breed in the Himalayas from northwestern India through Nepal to Myanmar, northern Vietnam, and just into China. It occurs in river valleys and rugged wooded mountain ridges at heights between 1,000–4,000 m (3,300–13,100 ft) altitude, where it nests in colonies beneath overhangs on vertical cliffs, laying three or four white eggs in an enclosed mud nest.

This martin has blue-black upperparts with a contrasting white rump, and white underparts. It resembles its close relatives, the Asian house martin and common house martin, but unlike those species it has a black throat and black undertail. It feeds in flocks with other swallows, catching flies and other insects in flight. It is subject to predation and parasites, but its status within its limited range appears secure.

Peruvian martin

The Peruvian martin (Progne murphyi) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae. It is found in Peru and far norther Chile.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, pastureland, and urban areas. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Preuss's cliff swallow

Preuss's cliff swallow (Petrochelidon preussi), also known as Preuss's swallow, is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.


Progne is a genus of birds. The genus name refers to Procne (Πρόκνη), a mythological girl who was turned into a swallow to save her from her husband. She had killed their son to avenge the rape of her sister.


The saw-wings, Psalidoprocne, is a small genus of passerine birds in the swallow family. The common name of this group is derived from the rough outer edge of the outer primary feather on the wing, which is rough due to recurved barbs. The function of this is unknown. The birds are 11–17 cm long and black or black-and-white in colour. The genus has an African distribution and all species can be found foraging over forest and woodland.

Sinaloa martin

The Sinaloa martin (Progne sinaloae) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It breeds semicolonially in sheer cliff faces within pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental of western Mexico. Presumed migrant records also come from Belize and Guatemala. It is assumed to winter in South America.

Southern martin

The southern martin (Progne elegans) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in Argentina and southern Bolivia ; in winter it migrates to the western Amazon Basin.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, and urban areas.


Stelgidopteryx (Baird, 1858) is a small genus of swallows. It contains two species:

Adults of both species are brown on top with lighter underparts and a slightly forked tail. They nest in cavities but do not excavate their holes or form colonies.

These birds forage in flight over water or fields, usually flying low. They eat insects.

"Rough-winged" refers to the serrated edge feathers on the wing of this genus; this feature would only be apparent in the hand.

Tumbes swallow

The Tumbes swallow (Tachycineta stolzmanni) is a species of bird in the family Hirundinidae.

It is found in northwestern Peru and far southwestern Ecuador.

Its natural habitats are dry savanna, coastal saline lagoons, and arable land.

Swallows (family: Hirundinidae)


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