Swallow (Family: Hirundinidae) - wiki
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[Photo] Welcome Swallow - North Head (Sydney Australia). June 2004. Photo by Colin Johnson
The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding. Swallow is also used in Europe as a synonym for the Barn Swallow.
This family comprises two subfamilies: Pseudochelidoninae (the river martins of the genus Pseudochelidon) and Hirundininae (all other swallows and martins). Within the Hirundiniae, the name "martin" tends to be used for the squarer-tailed species, and the name "swallow" for the more fork-tailed species; however, there is no scientific distinction between these two groups.
It is believed that this family originated in Africa as hole-nesters; Africa still has the greatest diversity of species.
Swallows have adapted to hunting insects on the wing by developing a slender streamlined body, and long pointed wings, which allows great manoeuvrability and endurance.
Like the unrelated swifts and nightjars, which hunt in a similar way, they have short bills, but strong jaws and a wide gape. Their body length ranges from about 10???24 cm (3.9???9.4 in) and their weight from about 10???60 g (0.4???2.1 oz). The wings are long, pointed, and have nine primary feathers. The tail has 12 feathers and may be deeply forked, somewhat indented, or square-ended. A long tail increases manoeuvrability, and may also function as a sexual adornment, since the tail is frequently longer in males. Female Barn Swallows will select mates on the basis of tail length.
The legs are short, and their feet are designed for perching rather than walking, as the front toes are partially joined at the base, causing the bird to display a waddling gait.
The most common hirundine plumage is glossy dark blue or green above and plain or streaked underparts, often white or rufous. Species which burrow or live in dry or mountainous areas are often unglossed brown above (eg Sand Martin and Crag Martin). The sexes show no, or only limited, sexual dimorphism, with longer outer tail feathers in the adult male probably being the commonest distinction where one exists.
The chicks hatch naked and with closed eyes. Fledged juveniles usually appear as duller versions of the adult.
Swallows typically build mud nests close to overhead shelter in locations that are protected from both the weather and predators. Many cave and cliff dwelling species of swallow nest in large colonies. In historical times, the introduction of man-made stone structures such as barns and bridges, together with forest clearance, has led to an abundance of colony sites around the globe, significantly increasing the breeding ranges of some species. Birds living in large colonies typically have to contend with both ectoparasites and conspecific nest parasitism. Old males benefit most from coloniality, since they are able to maintain their own nests and benefit from frequent extra-pair copulations.
Swallows are excellent fliers, and use these skills to attract a mate and to defend territory. In general, the males select a nest site, and then attract a female using song and flight, and guard their territory. The size of the territory varies depending on the species of swallow; in colonial-nesting species it tends to be small, but it may be much larger for solitary nesters. The air speed of a fairly typical unladen European swallow is estimated to be roughly 24 miles per hour.
Pairs of mated swallows are monogamous, and pairs of non-migratory species often stay near their breeding area all year, though the nest site is defended most vigorously during the breeding season. Migratory species often return to the same breeding area each year, and may select same nest site if they were previously successful in that location. First-year breeders generally select a nesting site close to where they were born and raised.
Most species hunt over open country or near water.
Swallows are able to produce many different calls or songs, which are used to express excitement, to communicate with others of the same species, during courtship, or as an alarm when a predator is in the area. Begging calls are used by the young when soliciting food from their parents. The typical song of swallows is a simple, sometimes musical twittering.
Species in taxonomic order
Subfamily Pseudochelidoninae (river martins)
African River Martin Pseudochelidon eurystomina
White-eyed River Martin Pseudochelidon sirintarae
Subfamily Hirundininae (all other swallows & martins)
Square-tailed Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne nitens
Cameroon Mountain Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne fuliginosa
White-headed Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne albiceps
Black Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne pristoptera
Fanti Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne obscura
Eastern Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne orientalis
Black Rough-winged Swallow Psalidoprocne holomelaena
Grey-rumped Swallow Pseudhirundo griseopyga
White-backed Swallow Cheramoeca leucosternus
Mascarene Martin Phedina borbonica
Brazza's Martin Phedina brazzae
Brown-throated Sand Martin Riparia paludicola
Congo Sand Martin Riparia congica
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Pale Martin Riparia diluta
Banded Martin Riparia cincta
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina
Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea
Bahama Swallow Tachycineta cyaneoviridis
Tumbes Swallow Tachycineta stolzmanni
Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea
White-winged Swallow Tachycineta albiventer
White-rumped Swallow Tachycineta leucorrhoa
Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni
Purple Martin Progne subis
Cuban Martin Progne cryptoleuca
Caribbean Martin Progne dominicensis
Sinaloa Martin Progne sinaloae
Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
Galapagos Martin Progne modesta
Peruvian Martin Progne murphyi
Southern Martin Progne elegans
Brown-chested Martin Progne tapera
Brown-bellied Swallow Notiochelidon murina
Blue-and-white Swallow Notiochelidon cyanoleuca
Pale-footed Swallow Notiochelidon flavipes
Black-capped Swallow Notiochelidon pileata
Andean Swallow Neochelidon andecola
White-banded Swallow Atticora fasciata
Black-collared Swallow Atticora melanoleuca
White-thighed Swallow Neochelidon tibialis
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Southern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ruficollis
Tawny-headed Swallow Alopochelidon fucata
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Red-chested Swallow Hirundo lucida
Angolan Swallow Hirundo angolensis
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena
White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis
Ethiopian Swallow Hirundo aethiopica
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
White-throated Blue Swallow Hirundo nigrita
Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma
White-tailed Swallow Hirundo megaensis
Pearl-breasted Swallow Hirundo dimidiata
Montane Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea
Black-and-rufous Swallow Hirundo nigrorufa
Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Rock Martin Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
House Martin Delichon urbicum
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalense
Greater Striped Swallow Cecropis cucullata
Lesser Striped Swallow Cecropis abyssinica
Rufous-chested Swallow Cecropis semirufa
Mosque Swallow Cecropis senegalensis
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Striated Swallow Cecropis striolata
Rufous-bellied Swallow Cecropis badia
Red-throated Swallow Petrochelidon rufigula
Preuss's Swallow Petrochelidon preussi
Red Sea Swallow Petrochelidon perdita
South African Swallow Petrochelidon spilodera
Forest Swallow Petrochelidon fuliginosa
Streak-throated Swallow Petrochelidon fluvicola
Fairy Martin Petrochelidon ariel
Tree Martin Petrochelidon nigricans
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Cave Swallow Petrochelidon fulva
Chestnut-collared Swallow Petrochelidon rufocollaris
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