Dusky crag martin

The dusky crag martin (Ptyonoprogne concolor) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It is about 13 cm (5 in) long with a broad body and wings, and a short square tail that has small white patches near the tips of most of its feathers. This martin has sooty-brown upperparts and slightly paler underparts. The two subspecies are resident breeding birds in South Asia from the Indian subcontinent to southwestern China and the northern parts of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

This martin nests under a cliff overhang or on a man-made structure, building a neat half-cup mud nest with a soft lining. Both adults incubate the two to four eggs and feed the chicks. This species does not form large breeding colonies, but it is more gregarious outside the breeding season. It feeds a wide variety of insects that are caught as the martin flies near to cliff faces. It may be hunted by large bats as well as birds of prey, but its extensive and expanding range and large population mean that there are no significant conservation concerns.

Dusky crag martin
Ptyonoprogne concolor by Anis Shaikh 15
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Ptyonoprogne
Species:
P. concolor
Binomial name
Ptyonoprogne concolor
(Sykes, 1832)
Ptyonoprogne concolor map
  Approximate range
Synonyms

Hirundo concolor
Cotyle concolor

Taxonomy

The dusky crag martin was formally described by in 1832 as Hirundo concolor by British soldier and ornithologist William Henry Sykes.[2] It was moved to the new genus Ptyonoprogne by German ornithologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach in 1850.[3] Its nearest relatives are the three other members of the genus, the rock martin P. fuligula, the pale crag martin, P. obsoleta, and the Eurasian crag martin P. rupestris.[4] The genus name is derived from the Greek ptuon (πτύον), "a fan", referring to the shape of the opened tail, and Procne (Πρόκνη), a mythological girl who was turned into a swallow.[5] The specific concolor is from Latin, con "together", and color "colour" and refers to the bird's uniform colouration.

The four Ptyonoprogne species are members of the swallow family of birds, and are classed as members of the subfamily Hirundininae which comprises all swallows and martins except the very distinctive river martins. DNA studies suggest that there are three major groupings within the Hirundininae, broadly correlating with the type of nest built.[6] The groups are the "core martins" including burrowing species like the sand martin, the "nest-adopters", which are birds like the tree swallow that utilise natural cavities, and the "mud nest builders". The Ptyonoprogne species construct an open mud nest and therefore belong to the latter group; Hirundo species also build open nests, Delichon house martins have a closed nest, and the Cecropis and Petrochelidon swallows have retort-like closed nests with an entrance tunnel.[7]

The genus Ptyonoprogne is closely related to the larger swallow genus Hirundo into which it is often subsumed, but a DNA analysis showed that an enlarged Hirundo should contain all the mud-builder genera, including the Delichon house martins, a practice which few authorities follow. Although the nests of the Ptyonoprogne crag martins resembles those of typical Hirundo species like the barn swallow, the research showed that if Delichon, Cecropis and Petrochelidon are split from Hirundo, Ptyonoprogne should be also considered as a separate genus.[6]

In Pakistan, the breeding range of the dusky crag martin overlaps that of the subspecies P. f. peloplasta of pale crag martin, but that species breeds much higher in the mountains. This altitudinal separation means that it is not known whether the two closely related martins could hybridise, which would cast doubts as to whether they were distinct species.[8] Dusky crag martins from Burma and Thailand have been described as a separate darker subspecies, P. c. sintaungensis (originally Krimnochelidon concolor sintaungensis, Baker, 1832),[9] but it is not clear that the difference is greater than that between individual martins of the nominate subspecies.[8][10]

Description

The dusky crag martin is 13 cm (5 in) long with a broad body, wings and tail. It has sooty-brown upperparts and slightly paler underparts, with a streaked pale dull rufous chin, throat and foreneck. The tail is short and square, with small white patches near the tips of all but the central and outermost pairs of feathers. The underwing coverts are dark brown, the eyes are brown, the small bill is mainly black, and the legs are brownish-pink. The sexes are alike, but juveniles have rufous grey tips to the plumage of the upperparts and wings. This species can be distinguished from the Eurasian crag martin and rock martin by its darker underparts,[8] and its white tail spots are significantly smaller than those of the Eurasian crag martin.[11] The under-tail coverts are of the same shade as the underside of the abdomen but these are darker in the Eurasian crag martin.[12]

This small martin's flight is typically slow and leisurely, but it is capable of considerable speed when required.[13] The calls are similar to those of the Eurasian crag martin and include a soft chi, chi contact call and a twittering song.[8]

Distribution and habitat

The nominate subspecies of the dusky crag martin breeds in much of the Indian subcontinent from the base of the Himalayas south to the Nilgiri mountains and east to West Bengal,[13] and P. c. sintaungensis is found in southwestern China, and the northern parts of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The dusky crag martin is largely resident apart from local movements after breeding, but it has bred in Malaysia at least once, and occurred as a vagrant to Sri Lanka and probably Borneo.[1][8]

The natural breeding habitat is hilly or mountainous country with cliffs, gorges and caves, with nesting typically up to an altitude of about 1,800 m (5,900 ft), although up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in Thailand.[14] This martin also breeds in lowland areas utilising man-made structures as a substitute for natural precipices. Stone buildings such as old forts are particularly favoured, and the dusky crag martin can be found in urban areas including Mumbai.[1][8] Nests on buildings can be 30 m (98 ft) from the ground,[15] and include unusual sites such as light fittings.[16]

Behaviour

Breeding

Mehrangarh Fort
Old forts provide alternative nest sites to natural cliffs

Dusky crag martin pairs typically nest alone, although in suitable locations several pairs may be quite close to each other.[13] The natural nesting habitat is under ledges on cliff faces or river banks, but man-made structures are readily used. Stone buildings such as old hill forts, mosques and tombs are preferred, and other artificial sites include bridges, archways and culverts. Breeding has been reported in every month, but mainly in February and March, and again after the rains start in July and August; usually two broods are raised. The nest, built by both adults, is an open half-cup made of mud and lined with soft material such as feathers or dry grass. It is constructed under an overhang or in a crevice on a cliff or man-made structure, and is re-used for the second brood and in subsequent years.[17] The clutch is two to four eggs, white with reddish brown blotches particularly at the wide end, and averaging 17.7 mm × 13.0 mm (0.70 in × 0.51 in) with a weight of 1.57 g (0.055 oz). Both adults incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. Incubation and nestling periods are unknown but assumed to be similar to those of the Eurasian crag martin (13–17 days to hatching, and 24–27 days to fledge).[8][18]

Feeding

The dusky crag martin feeds mainly on insects caught in flight. When nesting, birds often fly back and forth near to a rock face or building hunting for their prey. This martin is more gregarious outside the breeding season, and may form small flocks where food is abundant.[8] Vertical surfaces are preferred for hunting, and a study of the Eurasian crag martin, which has a similar foraging technique, showed that cliff faces generate standing waves in the airflow which concentrate insects near vertical areas. The martin exploits the area close to the cliff when it hunts, relying on its high manoeuvrability and ability to perform tight turns. When feeding young, foraging is concentrated on the profitable patches in the immediate vicinity of the nest, since there is a negative correlation between foraging distance and feeding rate.[19]

Predators and parasites

In addition to predation by birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon, this small martin has been recorded in the diet of the greater false vampire bat, Megaderma lyra.[20]

Status

The total population of the dusky crag martin has not been quantified, but it is suspected to be increasing owing to the availability of artificial nest sites.[1] This martin is locally common in India, Thailand, and southern China,[8][21] and there appear to be range extensions to the northeast into Guangxi,[22] southwards into lowland Laos,[23] and westwards to the hills and plains of Sindh.[24] There is also a recent unconfirmed report from Cambodia.[25] Its large range and presumed high numbers mean that the dusky crag martin is not considered to be threatened, and it is classed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Species factsheet Hirundo concolor". BirdLife International. Retrieved 4 April 2010
  2. ^ Sykes, William Henry (1832). "Catalogue of birds of the Raptorial and Incessorial Orders observed in the Dukhun". Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London. pt2 (18): 77–99.
  3. ^ Reichenbach (1850) plate LXXXVII figure 6
  4. ^ Turner (1989) pp. 158–164
  5. ^ "Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris [Scopoli, 1769]". Bird facts. British Trust for Ornithology. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  6. ^ a b Sheldon, Frederick H; Whittingham, Linda A; Moyle, Robert G; Slikas, Beth; Winkler, David W (2005). "Phylogeny of swallows (Aves: Hirundinidae) estimated from nuclear and mitochondrial DNA". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 35 (1): 254–270. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2004.11.008. PMID 15737595.
  7. ^ Winkler, David W; Sheldon, Frederick H (1993). "Evolution of nest construction in swallows (Hirundinidae): a molecular phylogenetic perspective" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 90 (12): 5705–5707. doi:10.1073/pnas.90.12.5705. PMC 46790. PMID 8516319. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 July 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Turner (1989) pp. 163–164
  9. ^ Dickinson, Edward C.; Dekker, R W R J; Eck, S; Somadikarta, S (2001). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 14. Types of the Hirundinidae". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 335: 138–164.
  10. ^ Dickinson, Edward C.; Dekker, René (2001). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 13. A preliminary review of the Hirundinidae". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 335: 127–144. ISSN 0024-1652. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
  11. ^ Rasmussen & Anderton (2005) p. 311
  12. ^ Ali & Ripley (1986) pp. 53–56
  13. ^ a b c Baker (1926) pp. 236–237
  14. ^ Robson (2004) p. 208
  15. ^ "Martin Kelabu Dusky Crag Martin" (PDF). Bird list (in Malay). Department of wildlife and national parks, peninsular Malaysia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2010
  16. ^ Sharma, Satish Kumar (September 2003). "Nesting of Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor Sykes on electric bulbs at Phulwari and Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuaries, Rajasthan". Zoos' Print Journal. 18 (10): 1236. doi:10.11609/JoTT.ZPJ.18.10.1236a.
  17. ^ Betts, Frederick Nicholson (1952). "The breeding seasons of birds in the hills of South India". Ibis. 94 (4): 621–628. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1952.tb01875.x.
  18. ^ Hume (1890) pp. 180–183
  19. ^ Fantur, von Roman (1997). "Die Jagdstrategie der Felsenschwalbe (Hirundo rupestris)" (PDF). Carinthia (in German and English). 187 (107): 229–252.
  20. ^ "Megaderma lyra". Bats in China. The Darwin Initiative Centre for Bat Research. Retrieved 6 April 2010
  21. ^ Lekagul & Round (1991) p. 234
  22. ^ Evans, T D; Towll, H C; Timmins, R J; Thewlis, R M; Stones, A J; Robichaud, W G; Barzen J (2000). "Ornithological records from the lowlands of southern Laos during December 1995-September 1996, including areas on the Thai and Cambodian borders" (PDF). Forktail. 16: 29–52. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2011.
  23. ^ Shing, Lee Kwok; Wai-neng Lau, Michael; Fellowes, John R; Lok, Chan Bosco Pui (2006). "Forest bird fauna of South China: notes on current distribution and status" (PDF). Forktail. 22: 23–38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2011.
  24. ^ Azam, Mirza Mohammad; Shafique, Chaudhry M (2005). "Birdlife in Nagarparkar, district Tharparkar, Sindh" (PDF). Records Zoological Survey of Pakistan. 16: 26–32.
  25. ^ Eaton, James. "Cambodia Oriental Bird Club fundraising tour 21st January – 2nd February 2007" (PDF). birdtourasia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2010

Cited texts

  • Ali, Salim; Ripley, Sidney Dillon (1986). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. 5 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561857-2.
  • Baker, E C S (1926). Fauna of British India. Birds. 3 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis, London.
  • Hume, Allan Octavian (1890). The nests and eggs of Indian birds. 2 (2nd ed.). R H Porter, London.
  • Lekagul, Boonsong; Round, Philip (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Thailand. Saha Karn Baet. ISBN 974-85673-6-2.
  • Rasmussen P C; Anderton, J C (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-66-0.
  • Reichenbach, Heinrich Gustav (1850). Avium systema naturale (in German). Dresden and Leipzig: F. Hofmeister.
  • Robson, Craig (2004). A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand. New Holland Press. ISBN 1-84330-921-1.
  • Turner, Angela K; Rose, Chris (1989). A handbook to the swallows and martins of the world. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7470-3202-5.

Further reading

  • Vyawahare, P M (1992) "Nest construction technique of Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolor with a note on its incubation period" Pavo 30(1&2):67–74.
Atticora

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.

Crag martin

The crag martins are four species of small passerine birds in the genus Ptyonoprogne of the swallow family. They are the Eurasian crag martin (P. rupestris), the pale crag martin (P. obsoleta), the rock martin (P. fuligula) and the dusky crag martin (P. concolor). They are closely related to each other, and have formerly sometimes been considered to be one species. They are closely related to the Hirundo barn swallows and are placed in that genus by some authorities. These are small swallows with brown upperparts, paler underparts without a breast band, and a square tail with white patches. They can be distinguished from each other on size, the colour shade of the upperparts and underparts, and minor plumage details like throat colour. They resemble the sand martin, but are darker below, and lack a breast band.

These are species of craggy mountainous habitats, although all three will also frequent human habitation. The African rock martin and the south Asian dusky crag martin are resident, but the Eurasian crag martin is a partial migrant; birds breeding in southern Europe are largely resident, but some northern breeders and most Asian birds are migratory, wintering in north Africa or India. They do not normally form large breeding colonies, but are more gregarious outside the breeding season. These martins build neat mud nests under cliff overhangs or in crevices in their mountain homes, and have readily adapted to the artificial cliffs provided by buildings and motorway bridges. Up to five eggs, white with dark blotches at the wider end, may be laid, and a second clutch is common. Ptyonoprogne martins feed mainly on insects caught in flight, and patrol cliffs near the breeding site with a slow hunting flight as they seek their prey. They may be hunted by falcons and infected with mites and fleas, but their large ranges and populations mean that none of the crag martins are considered to be threatened, and all are classed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

Eurasian crag martin

The Eurasian crag martin or just crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It is about 14 cm (5.5 in) long with ash-brown upperparts and paler underparts, and a short, square tail that has distinctive white patches on most of its feathers. It breeds in the mountains of southern Europe, northwestern Africa and southern Asia. It can be confused with the three other species in its genus, but is larger than both, with brighter tail spots and different plumage tone. Many European birds are resident, but some northern populations and most Asian breeders are migratory, wintering in northern Africa, the Middle East or India.

The Eurasian crag martin builds a nest adherent to the rock under a cliff overhang or increasingly onto a man-made structure. It makes a neat half-cup mud nest with an inner soft lining of feathers and dry grass. Nests are often solitary, although a few pairs may breed relatively close together at good locations. Two to five brown-blotched white eggs are incubated mainly by the female, and both parents feed the chicks. This species does not form large breeding colonies, but is gregarious outside the breeding season. It feeds on a wide variety of insects that are caught in its beak as the martin flies near to cliff faces or over streams and alpine meadows. Adults and young may be hunted and eaten by birds of prey or corvids, and this species is a host of blood-sucking mites. With its very large and expanding range and large population there are no significant conservation concerns.

This bird is closely related to the other three crag martins which share its genus, and has sometimes been considered to be the same species as one or both, although it appears that there are areas where two species' ranges overlap without hybridisation occurring. All three Ptyonoprogne crag martins are quite similar in behaviour to other Old World swallows that build mud nests, and are sometimes subsumed into the larger genus Hirundo, but this approach leads to inconsistencies in classifying other genera, particularly the house martins.

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.

Pale crag martin

The pale crag martin (Ptyonoprogne obsoleta) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family that is resident in northern Africa and in southwestern Asia east to Pakistan. It breeds mainly in the mountains, but also at lower altitudes, especially in rocky areas and around towns. Unlike most swallows, it is often found far from water. It is 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) long, with mainly brown plumage, paler-toned on the upper breast and underwing coverts, and with white "windows" on the spread tail in flight. The sexes are similar in appearance, but juveniles have pale fringes to the upperparts and flight feathers. It was formerly considered to be the northern subspecies of the rock martin of southern Africa, although it is smaller, paler, and whiter-throated than that species. The pale crag martin hunts along cliff faces for flying insects using a slow flight with much gliding. Its call is a soft twitter.

This martin builds a deep bowl nest on a sheltered horizontal surface, or a neat quarter-sphere against a vertical rock face or wall. The nest is constructed with mud pellets and lined with grass or feathers, and may be built on natural sites under cliff overhangs or on man-made structures such as buildings and bridges. It is often reused for subsequent broods or in later years. This species is often a solitary breeder, but small groups may breed close together in suitable locations. The two or three eggs of a typical clutch are white with brown and grey blotches, and are incubated by both adults for 16–19 days prior to hatching. Both parents then feed the chicks. Fledging takes another 22–24 days, although the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after the first flight.

The pale crag martin is caught in flight by several fast, agile falcon species, such as hobbies, and it sometimes carries parasites, but it faces no major threats. Because of its range of nearly 6 million km2 (2.3 million sq mi) and a large and apparently increasing population, it is not seen as vulnerable and is assessed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

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

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.

Saw-wing

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

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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