Common House Martin    Delichon urbicum

Etymology :

  • Delichon : Anagram of Genus Chelidonfor Martins
  • Urbicum : Latin word for Urban , Modern derived from urbis – town

 Vernacular Names : Guj: Kabariabali, Mar: UttariGruh Pankoli

Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayas in India.

Description: Size of 13–14 cm; wt. of 10·3–23 g; wingspan of 26–29 cm. The male breeding has glossy blue crown and back, white rump, sometimes white feather bases showing on hindcrown; wings and tail are black, tail is moderately forked; wholly white below, legs are with white feathering. It has glossy upperparts, whiter underparts, deeper tail fork. In non-breeding plumage, white on rump, face-sides, throat and flanks are mottled brown-grey. The female has greyer underparts than male. The juvenile is duller, browner with tail shorter. The race meridionale is smaller than nominate. It hybridizes comparatively frequently with barn swallow.

Habitat: It is found in open areas, coastal cliffs, cultivation, and human habitations, including towns and cities. It is found up to 4500 m. Roosts in nests, sometimes communally, and on trees and cliffs, rarely in reed beds ; also sleeps on the wing, especially in winter quarters.

Food habits: It eats insects, predominantly small ones like flies, aphids, parasitic Hymenoptera, beetles and flying ants. Rarely eats small fruits. It forages in flocks, sometimes with other aerial feeders. The flight is slow and high up. It forages at up to 2 km from nest. It occasionally perches on ground, rocks or vegetation to pick up insects and follow ploughs and large animals to feed on flushed insects

Breeding habits: They breed in May in North West & Central Europe, May–Jun in North & North East Europe; Mar–May in South Spain and North Africa; Jun–Jul in North Indian Subcontinent in Ladhak, North Kashmir. They are socially monogamous, but extra-pair paternity occurs with heavier males more likely to secure more fertilizations. The nests are clustered together, abutting each other. Male attracts female by calling and following her, approaches and sings when she perches, potential partners often initially are mutually aggressive. The copulation is mostly inside nest. The soliciting male, if accepted, seizes female’s crown or nape and mounts. The male guards mate during nest-building and egg-laying. The nest is built by both sexes, taking 8–18 days. The nest is enclosed, with small entrance hole near top, made of mud pellets, lined with vegetable fibers and feathers; attached to outside of building or, less often, bridge, usually under overhang, sometimes inside building, on natural sea cliff or rock face. The nests are reused in same and successive seasons; old nest of Barn swallow occasionally used. They lay a clutch of 1–7 eggs. The incubation is done by both sexes. Incubation period is 14–16 days. The hatching is asynchronous&chicks are brooded by both sexes, and fed by both sexes. The fledging period is 22–32 days. The fledglings return to nest to roost for several days, fed by parents for a few days, sometimes stay in colony for several weeks.