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Alternative names: Collared Sand Martin; Bank Swallow
Length 12-13 cm
The Eurasian Crag Martin is larger and flies more slowly.
Common Swifts appear all dark and very sickle or boomerang-shaped and are comparatively large compared to the three hirundines below.
Barn Swallows are mostly pale from below and all dark above, has much longer tail streamers, a black breast and red throat.
Common House Martin are very white below and dark from above, with much shorter, dark tail, and a prominent white rump
Sand Martin are pale from below with a dark throat band, but noticeably brown-coloured.
There is a difference in the flying style too: House martin flight is more fluttery than a Barn Swallow which is faster, more direct and swooping, while Sand Martin are more fluttery still, and Common Swift are very fast and look somewhat stiff-winged.
Finally, the calls are all quite distinct: swift calls are quite loud and screeching, while swallows are more twittery and varied. House martin and Sand Martin calls are quite similar, less sustained than swallows possibly, and more chirpy and clipped, with sand martin being slightly scratchier or hoarse sounding.
Pale Sand Martin has been split from the present species.
Five to six subspecies are recognized:
these are widely recognized - taczanowskii only by some authorities.
Riverbanks, lakesides and sandpit, often seen in numbers hunting insects in low flight over lakes and rivers. Prior to and during migration they roost communally in large reedbeds
The diet includes insects, such as flies and spiders that are caught in flight.
Breeds colonially in vertical sandy or earth banks, e.g. in gravel-pits and river banks, where nest is excavated (often a good metre horizontally into the earth).
The nest burrow is built by both parents; the chamber being lined with plant material and feathers. The eggs are white, and shiny. Incubation and care of the young is carried out by both parents.
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