Brown-throated Martin (Riparia paludicola)

Brown-throated Martin

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Hirundinidae | [latin] Riparia paludicola | [UK] Brown-throated Martin | [FR] Hirondelle paludicole | [DE] Braunkehl-Uferschwalbe | [ES] Avion Paludicola | [NL] Vale Oeverzwaluw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Riparia paludicola AF Widespread
Riparia paludicola cowani
Riparia paludicola ducis
Riparia paludicola mauritanica
Riparia paludicola minor
Riparia paludicola newtoni
Riparia paludicola paludicola
Riparia paludicola schoensis

Physical charateristics

The 12 cm long Plain Martin is brown above and white or pale brown below. It lacks the narrow brown band on the breast shown by the Sand Martin; the bill is black and the legs are brown. Sexes are similar, but the young have pale tips to the feathers on the rump and wings.

wingspan min.: 26 cm wingspan max.: 27 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Africa : Widespread


Low latitudes near southern limits of west Palearctic. Consequently tolerates much warmer climates, but exposed to oceanic influences in Moroccan breeding area which reaches up to Mediterranean climatic zone.
No significant differences in habitat from Sand Martin.


The Plain Martin is colonial in its nesting habits, with many pairs breeding close together, according to available space. The nests are at the end of tunnels of 30 to 60 cm in length, bored in sandbanks and build by both sexes. The actual nest is a litter of straw and feathers in a chamber at the end of the burrow. Two to four white eggs are the normal clutch, and are incubated by both parents for about 12 days. Breeding season in Morocco from Nov-Dec.

Feeding habits

No much information known from west Palearctic, elsewhere, diet consists of small flying insects.
Takes prey in flight, often over water, often breaks surface in dipping to catch low-flying insects.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Its brown back, small size and quicker, jerkier flight separate Plain Martin at once from most other members of the swallow family. It is most similar to the Sand Martin, Riparia riparia , which is its northern counterpart. Where the breeding ranges overlap in southern Asia, Plain Martins tend to breed at lower altitudes than their relative. In the northern winter, both species are found in the same wetland habitats.
Brown-throated Martin status Least Concern


Morocco population sedentary, breeding durin winter. in East and South Africa, at least partially migratory though such movements not properly understood. In Sudan, apparently moves S after breeding in north of county.

Distribution map

Brown-throated Martin distribution range map

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