Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Passeriformes / Hirundindae / Delichon / Species
Delichon urbica - Northern house-martin (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • House martin.
  • Common house martin.
  • European house martin.
  • Huiszwalow (Holland).
  • Hirondelle de fenêtre (France).
  • Mehlschwalbe (Germany).
  • Balestruccio (Italy).
  • Avión común (Spain).
  • Hussvala (Switzerland).

(B19, B162)

Names for newly-hatched

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Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Gordon McLeod

Species Editor

Debra Bourne

Major References

B19, B162, B163, B164, B165, B166 

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)

  • --

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Swallows, Swifts, Nightjars.

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

--
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Head to tail:
  • General: 12.5cm (B162); 13.5-15cm (B164); 12cm (B165); 12-13cm / 4.5-5 ins. (B166)

Wingspan:

  • General: 26-29cm. (B162)

Winglength:

  • General: 105-116mm. (B162)
Adult weight General 15-23g. (B162)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Short and thin; black. (B162, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Eyes Male Black. (B162, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Short and thin; black. (B165)
Eyes (Iris) Black. (B165)

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Legs

Adult Male Short; white. (B162, B165, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Short; white. (B165)

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Upperparts: Glossy black; rump white.
  • Head: Crown black; cheeks white.
  • Underparts: White; throat white.
  • Wings: Upper black; underside (whole wing) grey.
  • Tail: Short and forked; upper and under: black.

(B162, B165, B166)

Variations (If present) --
Juvenile
  • Upperparts: Dull black.
  • Wings: Upper dull black; underside (whole wing) grey.
  • Underparts: White with grey-tinge.

(B165)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

Altricial, helpless, downy, eyes closed. (B163, B166)

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year
  • May to June, may be 3-4 weeks earlier in North Africa, and later in northern Europe. (B162, B166)
No. of Clutches 2-3. (B162, B163, B166)

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Nest placement and structure

  • Colonial nesting sites.
  • Constructed from mud, feathers and other light material.
  • Normally dome or sphere shaped, though open cups are also made.
  • Located under eaves or overhanging ledges of buildings, bridges and cliffs.
  • 3-50m above ground.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 3-5 (B162, B163); 4-5. (B166)
Range 1-7. (B162, B163)
Egg description: Smooth and slightly glossy, 19mm long; white, possibly with fine red spots.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Incubation

14-16 days (B162, B163); 13-19 days. (B166)

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Hatching

Synchronous. (B163)

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Fledging

22-32 days, up to 40 (B162, B163); 19-25 days. (B166)

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Capture prey in flight, normally by swooping from below, often over freshwater. May also take prey while perched in trees, on walls or on the ground. (B162, B163, B166)
Newly-hatched Fed by parents. (B163)

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By both birds, initiated by male. (B163)
Incubation By both parents. (B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by both parents. (B163)
Juveniles

Roost in nest for some days after fledging. When two broods are reared, young of first brood may be co-operative breeders, helping to rear the second brood. (B163)

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific
  • Highly gregarious throughout year.
  • Migration and wintering flocks of several hundred birds common.
  • Birds will attempt to steal nesting material from each other.
  • Aggressive defence of nest-area territory.

(B162, B163)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous pair-bond, normally for entire breeding season.
  • Paired birds normally spend time in the nest together before laying.

(B162, B163)

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

  • Aerial.
  • Takes off and lands on buildings.

(B166)

Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

  • Flying insects.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Newly-hatched

Insects. (B162, B163)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Common and widespread throughout western Palearctic, central and northern Asia to Iran, the Himalayas and southern China. Also found on north coast of Africa. (B162)

Britain: Common summer visitor throughout, except in the north-west of Scotland. (B166)

Migration:

  • Late autumn migrant.
  • Migration to Mediterranean and tropical Africa.

(B162)

Palearctic; wintering southern Africa, south-east Asia (B89)

Occasional and Accidental Spitsbergen, Bear Island, Iceland (annually), Azores, Madeira. (B162)
Introduced

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Habitat

  • Towns.
  • Freshwater.

(B162, B166)

Breeding - "Open country, especially around settlements or cliffs" (B163)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Common, though reported declining locally in Europe. (B162, B163)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

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Trade

--

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