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.
|Pale crag martin|
|Drawing by Richard Bowdler Sharpe|
The pale crag martin was first formally described in 1850 by German ornithologist Jean Cabanis as Cotyle obsoleta, using a specimen collected from near Cairo, Egypt. It was moved to the new genus Ptyonoprogne, created by German ornithologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, in the same year. The genus name is derived from the Ancient 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. The specific name obsoleta means "worn" in Latin.
The Ptyonoprogne species are members of the swallow family of birds, and are classed as members of the Hirundininae subfamily, which comprises all swallows and martins except the very distinctive river martins. DNA sequence studies suggest that there are three major groupings within the Hirundininae, broadly correlating with the type of nest built. These 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 open mud nests and therefore belong to the last 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.
The genus Ptyonoprogne is closely related to the larger swallow genus Hirundo, and is sometimes included within it since the nests of the Ptyonoprogne crag martins resemble those of typical Hirundo species like the barn swallow. However, a DNA analysis showed that if Hirundo is enlarged to contain the crag martins, it should include all the mud-builder genera. Conversely, if the Delichon house martins are considered to be a separate genus, as is normally the case, Cecropis, Petrochelidon and Ptyonoprogne should also be split off. The pale crag martin's nearest relatives are the other members of the genus, the dusky crag martin P. concolor of southern Asia, the rock martin P. fuligula of Southern Africa, and the Eurasian crag martin P. rupestris.
The pale crag martin was formerly often treated as the small, pale northern subspecies of the rock martin, but it is now usually considered to be a separate species. The changes in size and colour are continuous, so the evidence for separate species is not strong, although some rock martins can weigh more than twice as much as the smallest subspecies of the pale crag martin. The average weight for P. o. fusciventris is 22.4 g (0.79 oz) against 10 g (0.35 oz) for P. o. obsoleta. There do not appear to be any intermediate forms where pale crag martins and rock martin populations breed close to each other in Somalia and Ethiopia.
In areas of Pakistan where its range overlaps with that of the dusky crag martin, the pale crag martin breeds at a higher altitude. Its range does not overlap there with the Eurasian crag martin, which is found high in the Himalayas, but where both occur in Iran, the pale crag martin favours more arid habitats. In North Africa, the Eurasian species is again found at a higher level. The separation by altitude and aridity means that it is not known whether the closely related Ptyonoprogne martins could hybridise. If they were shown to do so, it would cast doubts on their specific distinctness.
|P. o. obsoleta||(Cabanis, 1850)||Egypt east to southwestern Iran.||The nominate subspecies.|
|P. o. spatzi||(Geyr von Schweppenburg, 1916)||South central Algeria, southern Libya, Chad and Mali.||Dusky brown plumage with a buff throat, breast and belly.|
|P. o. presaharica||(Vaurie, 1953)||Morocco, northern Algeria, Mauritania.||Paler and sandier plumage than P. o. spatzi.|
|P. o. buchanani||(Hartert, 1921)||Aïr Mountains of Niger.||A dark form, intermediate in tone between the nominate subspecies and the rock martin.|
|P. o. arabica||(Reichenow, 1905)||Southwest Arabia, eastern Sudan, northern Somalia and Socotra.||Like P. o. buchanani but larger.|
|P. o. perpallida||(Vaurie, 1951)||Northeast Arabia, southern Iraq.||Whitish grey upperparts, white chin and upper breast.|
|P. o. peroplasta||(Hume, 1872)||Central Iran east to Pakistan.||Sandier plumage tone than P. o. obsoleta.|
The pale crag martin of the nominate subspecies P. o. obsoleta is 12–13 cm (4.7–5.1 in) long with light brown upperparts, becoming paler on the lower back, and a short square tail that has small white patches near the tips of all but the central and outermost pairs of feathers. It has a pale grey throat, upper breast and underwing coverts, and the rest of the underparts are a dirty white. The eyes are brown, the small bill is mainly black, and the legs are brownish-pink. The wing length averages 1.3 cm (4.55 in) and the tail averages 4.8 cm (1.9 in). The sexes are similar in appearance, but juveniles have pale edges to the upperparts and flight feathers. The other subspecies differ from the nominate form as detailed in the table above.
This martin moults early, with adults having completely replaced their feathers by late August. Juveniles moult somewhat later, and their old primary feathers are retained even when the body has mainly adult plumage.
The pale crag martin's flight is slow, with rapid wing beats interspersed with flat-winged glides, and it is more acrobatic than the larger Eurasian crag martin. It is a quiet bird; the song is a muffled twitter, and other calls include a trrt resembling the call of the common house martin, a nasal vick, and a high pitched twee contact call.
The pale crag martin is much drabber than most African swallows, and confusion is unlikely except with other crag martins or with sand martins of the genus Riparia. It is 15% smaller, paler and greyer than the Eurasian crag martin, and has smaller tail spots. It is smaller, paler, and has a more contrasting throat than the rock martin. In the far east of its range, the pale crag martin always has lighter underparts than the dusky crag martin. Although only slightly larger than the sand martin and brown-throated sand martin, the pale crag martin is more robust, has white tail spots, and lacks a breast band. Separation of similar species in flight may be complicated by the difficulty of judging colours accurately in strong desert light, particularly with juveniles. The fast flight of the brown-throated sand martin also makes identification more difficult.
The pale crag martin breeds in suitable habitats throughout northern Africa and through the Middle East as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is largely resident apart from local movements or a descent to lower altitudes after breeding. In addition, there is some short-range movement, including martins from southern Arabia crossing the Red Sea and wintering alongside the local breeding birds in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and non-breeding P. f. spatzi and P. f. presaharica joining rock martins in Mali and Mauritania. In Pakistan, the breeding range of the subspecies P. f. peloplasta overlaps with that of the dusky crag martin, although that species breeds at much lower levels, and in North Africa P. f. obsoleta occupies desert habitats whilst the Eurasian crag martin is found in the mountains. The pale crag martin has been recorded as a vagrant in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Sri Lanka, although its occurrence in the last country is treated as unproven in a 2011 field guide. The martin has been claimed to visit Turkey, but this is also disputed.
The natural breeding habitat is hilly or mountainous country with cliffs, gorges and caves up to 3,700 m (12,000 ft) above sea level, but this martin also breeds in lowlands, especially if rocks or buildings are available, and may be found far from water. This species readily uses man-made structures as a substitute for natural precipices, and has bred on houses in southern Israel since the 1970s. In Egypt it may breed near monuments like Abu Simbel or in desert towns such as Aswan. It uses towns, bridges and cliffs in Ethiopia, and tower blocks in Arabia. In the breeding season, the martin needs mud or wet soil to construct its nests, and this is normally readily found near human habitations. This species appears to be scarce in some forested and coastal areas with high humidity, in which the red-rumped swallow tends to be the common hirundine.
Pale crag martin pairs often nest alone, especially in the Sahara, although where suitable sites are available small loose colonies may form. This martin aggressively defends its nesting territory against conspecifics and other species. In Africa breeding dates vary geographically and with local weather conditions, but in northwest Africa February to April is normal, and in Asia nesting is from April to June. Two broods are common, and three have been raised in a season.
The nest, built by both adults over several weeks, is made from several hundred mud pellets and lined with feathers and soft, dry grass, hair, sheep’s wool or plant down. It may be a half-cup when constructed under an overhang on a vertical wall or cliff, or shaped as a bowl like that of the barn swallow when placed on a sheltered ledge. The nest may be built on a rock cliff face, in a crevice or on a man-made structure, and is re-used for the second brood and in subsequent years. Caves are found in limestone formations and in the lava flows which cover much of western Saudi Arabia, and their ceilings are a favoured location for nesting pale crag martins, red-rumped swallows, and the little swifts which may appropriate the hirundines' nests. In buildings, nests are usually constructed against concrete, which provides adhesion similar to that of rock, but metal walls are sometimes used, and nests may be supported on beams or other horizontal supports. Birds sometimes breed in occupied buildings, and there is a record of a pair nesting in a busy restaurant kitchen. Artificial nests are readily used, and halved coconut shells have been successfully occupied in Abu Dhabi.
The clutch is usually two or three buff-white eggs blotched with sepia or grey-brown, particularly at the wide end. The average egg size for Asian birds was 19.3 x 12.9 mm (0.76 x 0.51 in) with a weight of 1.7 g (0.06 oz). Both adults incubate the eggs for 16–19 days prior to hatching and feed the chicks about ten times an hour until they fledge and for several days after they can fly. The fledging time can vary from 22–24 days to 25–30 days, though the latter estimates probably take into account fledged young returning to the nest for food. If a nest is destroyed, or the breeding attempt otherwise fails, a replacement clutch may be laid, typically with fewer eggs. Two nests in Arabia were used in spring and again in the autumn, but it is not known if the same pair were involved.
The pale crag martin feeds mainly on insects caught in flight, although it will occasionally feed on the ground. Breeding birds often feed close to their nesting territory, flying back and forth along a rock face catching insects in their bills. Cliff faces generate standing waves in the airflow which concentrate insects near vertical areas. Crag martins exploit the area close to the cliff when they hunt, relying on their high manoeuvrability and ability to perform tight turns. When not breeding, they may also hunt low over open ground. The insects caught depend on what is locally available, but may include mosquitoes, flies, Hymenoptera, ants and beetles. This martin often feeds alone, but sizeable groups may gather at grass fires to feast on the fleeing insects, and outside the breeding season flocks of up to 300 may form where food is abundant, such as agricultural areas, wetlands and sewage works. The pale crag martin drinks in flight as it skims the water surface, although at least some of its water requirement is obtained from the insects it consumes. Wintering hirundines of other species are not normally found in the dry, rocky areas in which the pale crag martin nests, so there is little competition for food.
Some falcons have the speed and agility to catch swallows and martins in flight, and pale crag martins may be hunted by species such as the peregrine falcon, Taita falcon, African hobby and wintering Eurasian hobby. Pale crag martins often share their nesting sites with little swifts, which sometimes forcibly take over martins' nests.
The argasid tick Hyalomma marginatum was found in pale crag martin nests on a sarcophagus and an ancient tomb in Egypt. This tick has been implicated in the transmission of Bahig virus, a pathogenic arbovirus previously thought to be transmitted only by mosquitoes. Another argasid tick, Argas africolumbae, was found in a nest of the closely related rock martins in Kenya. The nasal mite Ptilonyssus echinatus was found in a pale crag martin in the Tibesti Mountains of northern Chad.
The pale crag martin has a very large range of 5.9 million km2 (2.29 million sq mi). The total population is unknown, but the bird is described as very common in Jordan and common in Egypt. It has an expanding range and increasing population. Its large range and presumably high numbers mean that the pale crag martin is not considered to be threatened, and it is classed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
This species is locally common in Algeria, scarce in Morocco, and scarce in Pakistan. It has colonised southern Israel, where it breeds on houses, in the 1970s, and large numbers may occur outside the breeding season in Saudi Arabia and Oman. Population estimates include 10,000 to 100,000 pairs breeding in Egypt, 10,000 pairs in the United Arab Emirates, and an Arabian winter population of up to 150,000 birds in flocks that sometimes contain 300–500 birds. A large breeding range expansion in the Arabian Peninsula has been aided by the use of high-rise buildings as nesting sites, and possibly a greater supply of insects from agricultural land. Breeding is now regular in Abu Dhabi, and Qatar's tall buildings may be the next site for colonisation. The pale crag martin first bred in Iraq in 2009.
Argas africolumbae , ' is a small soft-bodied tick that is found primarily on chickens and birds including the pale crag martin.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)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.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.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.Hans Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg
Hans Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (October 3, 1884 – August 24, 1963) was a German arborist and ornithologist. He was born in Müddersheim and studied in Bonn and Berlin, gaining a doctoral thesis in forest science. He became a professor at Münden Forestry University, where he stayed until his retirement in 1938.Geyr von Schweppenburg published a number of important papers on forestry, but his passion was studying birds. By age 20 he had already published 15 scientific papers on bird, and the total rose to 250 between the first in 1901 and the last in 1963. He was particularly interested in bird migration, and for many years his studies of the red-breasted flycatcher (1911) and Eurasian siskin (1930) were the major works on those species. He co-authored a thesis on the bird life of the Rhine valley, and studied owl pellets. By 1906 had already identified some 20,000 vertebrate remains in such pellets.Between 1907-1908 he participated in expeditions to Spitzbergen and Bear Island, and in 1913 he went to Sudan .In 1914 he undertook a 3,000–km journey through southern Algeria collecting 217 bird samples. Shortly after, he lost both legs in the First Battle of the Marne, but learned to walk with artificial legs, and continued to work.Geyr von Schweppenburg named some subspecies of birds, including the pale crag martin subspecies Ptyonoprogne obsoleta spatzi.In 1933 he signed the Loyalty Oath of German Professors to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State.Hyalomma marginatum
Hyalomma marginatum is a hard-bodied tick found on birds including the pale crag martin. This tick has been implicated in the transmission of Bahig virus, a pathogenic arbovirus previously thought to be transmitted only by mosquitoes.The Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus has also been detected in ticks of this type removed from migratory birds in Morocco.Hyalomma marginatum marginatum is a subspecies.
The subspecies is typically found in northern African, southern Europe and some parts of Asia,
but was in 2006 also identified in Germany.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.Ptilonyssus echinatus
Ptilonyssus echinatus is a nasal mite found in birds including the pale crag martin.Rock martin
The rock martin (Ptyonoprogne fuligula) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family that is resident in central and southern Africa. It breeds mainly in the mountains, but also at lower altitudes, especially in rocky areas and around towns, and, unlike most swallows, it is often found far from water. It is 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 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. The former northern subspecies are smaller, paler, and whiter-throated than southern African forms, and are now usually split as a separate species, the pale crag martin. The rock 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, dam walls, culverts and bridges. It is often reused for subsequent broods or in later years. This species is a solitary breeder, and is not gregarious, 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, but the young birds will return to the nest to roost for a few days after the first flight.
This small 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 10 million km2 (4 million sq mi) and large, apparently stable, population, it is not seen as vulnerable and is assessed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.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.