Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Passeriformes / Hirundindae / Species
Riparia riparia - Sand 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)

  • Common sand martin.
  • Gorgeted sand martin.
  • Oeverzwalum (Holland).
  • Hirondelle derivage (France).
  • Uferschwalbe (Germany).
  • Topino (Italy).
  • Avión zapador (Spain).
  • Backsvala (Sweden).
  • Bank Swallow (North America).
  • Riparia riparia riparia - Common sand-martin (B89)
  • Riparia riparia diluta - Eastern sand-martin (B89)

(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, B89, B162, B163, B164, B165, B166 

Aviculture references:

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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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

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Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Head to tail:

Wingspan:

  • General: 26.5-29cm. (B162)

Winglength:

  • General: 103-111mm. (B162)
Adult weight General 11-16g. (B162)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Short and thin; black. (B162, B164, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Eyes Male Black. (B162, B164, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Bill Short and thin; black. (B162, B164)
Eyes (Iris) Black. (B162, B164)

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Legs

Adult Male Short; black. (B162, B164, B166)
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Short; dark brown. (B162, B164)

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Plumage

Adult Male
  • Upperparts: Sandy-brown.
  • Head: Crown sandy-brown
  • Underparts: White; throat white; breast band sandy-brown.
  • Wings: Upper sandy-brown; underside (coverts) sandy-brown; underside (flight feathers) grey.
  • Tail: Short and notched; upper and under: sandy-brown.

(B162, B164, B166)

Variations (If present) --
Juvenile
  • Underparts: Throat grey-buff.

(B164)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

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

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year
  • April to June, early in southern parts of range (B162); May to June. (B166)
No. of Clutches 2. (B162, B166)

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Nest placement and structure

  • Colonial nesting.
  • Hole dug or found in riverbank, sand quarry or cliff face.
  • Tunnel to nest typically 46-90cm long.
  • Nest cup lined with feathers, grass, leaves and other soft material.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-6 (B162, B163); 4-5. (B166)
Range 2-7. (B162, B163)
Egg description: Smooth and glossy, sub-elliptical, 18mm long; white.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Incubation

14-15 days. (B162, B163)

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Hatching

Synchronous. (B163)

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Fledging

Average 22.3 days (B162); 18-26 days. (B163)

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Catches prey in flight. Rarely, may catch prey by running along the ground. Feeds over water and land. (B162, B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by parents. (B163)

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building By both birds, initiated by male. (B162, B163)
Incubation By both parents. (B162, B163)
Newly-hatched Fed by both parents. (B162, B163)
Juveniles

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific
  • Highly gregarious throughout the year.
  • Flocks of up to several thousand during migrations and at wintering grounds.

(B162)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Monogamous seasonal pair-bond.
  • Some males polygynous.
  • Some females obtain new mates for second broods.
  • Territorial defence of nest area.

(B162, B163)

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

  • Aerial.
  • Takes off and lands on ground.

(B166)

Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

  • Flying insects.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Newly-hatched

Insects. (B163)

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Scattered populations throughout Europe, common in Scandinavia, across Asia to central China. Widespread in North America.

Britain: Widespread summer visitor.

Migration:

  • Travel in large flocks.
  • Traditional flight paths followed.
  • West Palearctic and Asian populations winter in African Sahel region.

(B162, B166)

Occasional and Accidental Iceland, Faeroes, Madeira, Cape Verde Islands. (B162)
Introduced

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Habitat

  • Freshwater lakes, rivers and gravel-beds.
  • Sea-cliffs.
  • Avoids dense woodlands and built-up areas.

(B162, B163, B166)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Slight clinal variation in size and colouration.
  • Riparia riparia diluta; (Ural river); Distinctly paler, chest band marking not clear-cut.
  • Riparia riparia shelleyi; (Egypt); Paler, chest band marking clear-cut..
  • Riparia riparia eilata; (Israel); Small, with dark plumage.

(B162)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Widely scattered local populations across range, though declining. (B162)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Drought in African wintering grounds. (B163)

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Captive Populations

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Trade

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