Hirundo puella

Hirundo puella, Temm. & Schl, in Faun. Japon. Aves, p. 33 (1842) ; Hengl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 169 (1869) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 69, no. 797 (1869) ; Finsch & Hartl. Ora. Ostafr, p. 160 (1870) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870. p. 319 ; id. Ibis. 1870. p. 479 ; Blanf. Geol. & Zool. Abyss, p. 346 (1870) ; Finsch, Trans. Z. S. vii. p. 218 (1870) ; Sharpe, Cat. Afr. B. p. 47, no. 441 (1871) ; Layard, Ibis, 1871. p. 229 ; Shelley & Buckley, Ibis, 1872, p. 288 ; Antin. & Salvad. Viagg. Bogos, p. 73 (1873) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1873, p. 713 ; Ussher, Ibis, 1874, p. 63 ; Reiehen. Corr. Afrik. Gesellsch. 1875, p. 178 ; Sharpe & Bouv. Bull. Soc. Zool. France, i. p. 38 (1876) ; Reichen. J. f. O. 1887, p. 21 ; Cab. J. f. O. 1878, p. 222 ; Fischer & Reichen, t. c. p. 257 ; Fischer, t. c. p. 280 ; id. J. f. O. 1879. p. 344 ; Sharpe, in Oates's Matabele Land, App. p. 311 (1881) ; Shelley, P. Z. S. 1881, p. 565 ; Boeage. Orn. Angola, p. 184 (1881) ; Shelley, Ibis, 1882, p. 260 ; Sharpe, ed. Layard's B. S. Afr. pp. 373, 841 (1882) ; Salvad. Ann. Mus. Civ. Genov. (2) p. 121 Fischer, Zeitschr. ges. Orn. i. p. 357 (1884) ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. n. p. 151 (1885) ; Fischer, J. f. O. 1885, p. 128 ; Reichen. J. f. O. 1887 p. 62 : Salvad. Ann. Mus. Civ. Genov. (2) vi. p. 232 (1888).
Hirundo abyssinica, Guer. Rev. Zool. 1843, p. 322 ; id. in Ferr. et Gal. Voy. en Abyss, iii. p. 240, t. 10 (1847) ; Des Murs in Lefebvr. Voy. Abyss.. Zool. p. 77 (1845) ; Gray, Gen. B. i. p. 58 (1845) ; Bp. Consp, i. p. 340 (1850) ; Hartl. J. f. O. 1853, p. 399, 1855, p. 360 ; id. Orn. Westafr. p. 28 (1857) ; id. J. f. O. 1861. p. 103 ; Kirk, Ibis, 1864, p. 320.
Cecropis striolata, Rupp. Syst. Uebers, p. 18, t. 6 (1845).
Hirundo striolata, Gray, Cat. Fiss. Brit. Mus. p. 23 (1848) ; Gordon. Contr. Orn.
1849, p. 4 ; Horsf. & Moore, Cat. Birds Mus. E. I. Co. i. p. 94 (1854).
Hirundo korthalsi, Bp. Consp, i. p. 340 (1850) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 69. no. 800 (1869).
Cecropis abyssinica, Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Phil. Aead. p. 3 (1853) : Brehm. Reisenach Habesch, p. 209 (1863).
Hirundo capensis, A. E. Brehm, J. f. O. 1855, p. 492.
H. uropygio rufo : pileo rufo : subtus late nigro striolata.
Hab. in regione Ethiopica fere tota.
Adult. Head and back of neck pale sienna ; back and scapulas bright steel-blue wing-coverts duller steel-blue ; lower part of the back and rump deep sienna ; upper tail-coverts black, sometimes with reddish ends ; quills brownish black glossed with dull greenish blue ; tail-feathers brownish black, glossed above with greenish steel-blue, all the feathers except the centre ones having a large white spot on the inner web ; underneath fulvous white, profusely marked with broad longitudinal stripes of dark brown ; under tail-coverts white with rufous streaks ; under wing- coverts deeper fulvous ; bill black ; feet dark brown : “ iris umber ” (J. S. Jameson). Total length 7.8 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 4.2, tail 4.8, tarsus 0.5.
Young (type of H. korthalsi, Bp.). General colour above dull blue-black ; wing-coverts and quills dusky blackish with a slight gloss of blue-black, all the coverts and quills with an obsolete tip of sandy rufous, much broader on the inner secondaries ; lower back and rump pale rufous ; upper tail-coverts blue-black, with sandy rufous tips ; tail-feathers blackish, with a gloss of blue-black, the outer feathers only a little elongated, the two outermost with a long patch of white on the inner web ; crown of head dusky blackish, with sandy margins to all the feathers ; nape, hind neck, and sides of neck pale sandy rufous ; lores ashy ; sides of face and ear-coverts dull sandy rufous ; cheeks and under surface of body whitish, broadly streaked with dusky blackish on the throat and breast, the streaks becoming much narrower on the abdomen and being absent on the under tail-coverts, which are entirely white ; flanks and sides of body washed with pale sandy rufous ; under wing-coverts and axillaries uniform pale sandy rufous, the small coverts near the edge of the wing mottled with blackish bases ; quills dusky below, more ashy along the inner web. Total length 5 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 3.85, tail 2.2, tarsus 0.45 (Mus Lugd.).
Hab. South-eastern Africa, extending to the Zambesi on the east and to Benguela and the Congo on the west. Throughout Eastern Africa to Abyssinia, reoccurring on the Gold Coast.
Young birds can always be told by the want of the long outer tail-feathers, the rufous tips to the wing-coverts and inner secondaries, the remains of rufous margins to the dorsal feathers, and the distinet rufous tips to the upper tail-coverts ; the head is also blackish with tawny rufous edges to the feathers ; the streaks on the under surface are also more dusky and less distinet.
The following are the measurements of some of the specimens in the British Museum :—
Total length. Wing. Tail.
a. Ad. Cape Coast (Dr. Gordon). 5.7 4 2.85
b. Ad. Cape Coast (H. T. Ussher). 6.1 3.95 3.3
c. Ad. Cape Coast (H. T. Ussher). 5.9 3.9 2.9
d. Ad. Cape Coast (G. E. Shelley). 5.9 3.9 2.9
e. Ad. Cape Coast (G. E. Shelley). 6.7 3.9 3.9
f. Ad. Cape Coast (G. E. Shelley). 6 4 3.2
g. Ad. Cape Coast (T. E. Buckley). 6 3.85 3.2
h. Ad. Landana, Congo (L. Petit). 6.5 4.15 3.6
i. male ad. Landana, Congo (L. Petit). 6.2 4.05 3.45
j. Ad. Kingwilliamstown (H. Trevelyan). 5.5 4.15 2.3
k. male ad. Pinctown, Natal (T. L. Ayres). 6 4.2 2.15
l. male ad. Durban, Natal (T. L. Ayres). 6.8 4.35 3.85
m. Ad. Natal. 7.3 4.15 4.65
n. Ad. Natal (Mus. Jardine). 7 4.25 3.7
o. Ad. Tati (F. Oates). 6.8 4.15 3.8
p. Ad. Tati (F. Oates). 6.3 4.2 3.1
q. Ad. Shupanga (Sir J. Kirk). 6 4.15 3.1
r. Ad. Kitui (J. Hildebrandt). 7.6 4.25 3.85
s. female ad. Mombasa (J. Hildebrandt). 6 4.05 3.4
t. Ad. Mombasa (T. Wakefield). 6.5 4 3
u. Ad. Abyssinia. 6.3 4.2 3.25
v. female ad. Dongolo, Tigre (W. T. Blanford). 5.8 4.1 3.1
w. male ad. Rayrayguddy (W. Jesse). 7 4.25 3.8
x. Ad. Rayrayguddy (W. Jesse). 6 4.1 2.8
y.male ad. Rayrayguddy (W. Jesse). 7 4.2 3.85
As will be seen by the above measurements, there is great difference in the length of tail-feathers exhibited by the series in the British Museum, and in some specimens the long tail-feathers are so produced and so narrow as almost to equal in extent the remarkable plumes of the Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii). This attenuation and elongation of the outer tail-feathers appears to be a sign of age, and the character is not confined to specimens from any one locality. Those from the Gold Coast seem always to have rather shorter tails and also to have more rufous on the sides of the body and under wing-coverts.
ALTHOUGH of the same form as Hirundo cucullata, this species is conspicuously smaller in bulk, richer in colour, and much more broadly and plentifully streaked with black on the underparts.
It was first observed in South-eastern Africa by Dr. Atherstone, near Grahamstown, and Mr. E. L. Layard also saw the species in an open space near the fort at Committee’s Drift in the eastern district of the Cape Colony. Here, says Mr. Layard, “ it was in large flocks, perching freely on the ground, and we were assured by the hotel-keeper that it had bred there ; this we could easily believe, as we shot both old and young birds.” Major H. Trevelyan has presented to the British Museum a specimen shot near Kingwilliamstown.
We have received several specimens from Natal, and Mr. T. L. Ayres has sent adults collected in October, and a young bird procured on the 14th of March near Pine¬town. It does not seem to have been met with in the Transvaal ; but the late Mr. Frank Oates obtained two adult birds at Tati, in Matabele Land, on the 4th and 5th of October. Mr. Jameson also obtained the present species on the Umvuli River on the 1st of October. He says:—“This Swallow, which had just arrived in small parties, was immediately pairing off and commencing to build, but was by no means plentiful Specimens procured by Sir John Kirk at Shupanga, on the Shire River, are in me British Museum. It was observed by him on the Zambesi during two successive seasons, building in the months of December and January in the house at Shupanga ; it was not seen elsewhere, and was absent during the dry season.
The late Mr. Monteiro procured a specimen in Benguela, and Anchieta has met with the species on the Coroca River, at Caconda, and at Huilla in Mossamedes.
On the Lower Congo, Retit has found it at Landana in January and February, and Dr. Falkenstein on the Loango coast. It has not been included in any of the lists of birds from the Upper Congo regions.
The first record of its occurrence in Eastern Africa appears to have been in 1873, when the Rev. T. Wakefield found the species near Mombasa. It seems to be plentiful there, and since that date instances of its capture have been multiplied. Dr. Fischer writes:—“ I found H. puella at Mombasa in December, where it appears to breed during the dry season, viz. from December to April. During my residence here in the year 1877, from May to August, I did not notice the species at Mombasa, and it therefore seems to go somewhere else during the rainy season. They were in the habit of flying round the Arab houses after the manner of our European Swallow, were very tame, and often settled in the interior of the houses, the porches of which afforded them good nesting-places. I even found a completely finished nest under the cornice of a balcony, from which it extended in a slanting direction over the ceiling of the room. Its length was 21 centimetres, and at the base about 30 centimetres, so that the entrance was 4 centimetres in diameter. It was composed of little nodules of clay, and had no thicker lining inside. This Swallow utters sometimes a soft ‘zizi,’ at others a harsh ‘terr.’ The males have also a short song, which reminds one of that of Kersten’s Weaver-bird (Sycobrotus kersteni), but is less of a warble.” Dr. Fischer also met with the species at Pangani on the 1st of December, where it was again nesting in the porches of the Arab stone dwellings. On the 24th of April, at Nguruman, he found a colony of some thirty pairs on a steep wall of rock, at the foot of which a brook was flowing ; the nests were cup-shaped and made of clay, some containing fresh eggs and others young birds. Near Maurui he saw this Swallow engaged in carrying little lumps of clay from the shores of the river. The eggs are white.
Dr. Hildebrandt sent specimens from Kitui in Ukamba, where he met with the species in June. He states that the name of the Swallow in Mombasa is ‘Mbaimbayu.’ Dr. Fischer also procured specimens at Wito and Barawa, and on his last expedition he noticed the species at Msingissua in Usegua. Sir John Kirk has forwarded examples from Dar-es-Salaam, Malinda, and the Usambara Hills, and Dr. Fischer from Bagamoyo.
In Shoa it was procured by Sir W. C. Harris in January at Ankober. Antinori met with it at Ambo-Karra on the 9th of March, and Dr. Ragazzi also obtained a female at the Falls of Farre on the 19th of March.
During the Abyssinian Expedition, Mr. Blanford and Mr. Jesse met with it in Tigre, procuring examples in April and May, at Senafe, Dongolo, and Rayrayguddy. Von Heuglin has published the following note :—
“ I cannot say positively whether the Striped Abyssinian Swallow is a resident bird, but it certainly wanders to localities where it never breeds. We have met with it in different parts of Abyssinia northwards as far as Bogos in May, July, August, September, and October, and other observers have found it in November and April. Its localities are between 3500 and 10,000 feet, and they are said to nest on rocks, like H. Brehm says, in his ‘Reise nach dem. abessinischen Kustenland (Habesch. p. 209), that the present species is a house Swallow in both the districts where he saw it. I have never seen it upon or near human dwellings, neither on the banks of the Red Sea nor in the Eastern Soudan, and I describe the nests which I found in the Bogos country in hollows and clefts and under projecting rocks, which they resemble in colour. They were constructed of sand and earth, firmly cemented together probably by a kind of saliva of the builder. They resemble those of our House-Swallow in shape, but their sides are much less massive, and externally more smooth ; sometimes the nest is quite round. I found no material at all for lining in the interior, and the nests have just the appearance of pottery.
“This bird is generally observed in families, either sitting on dry tree-tops, or circling about over cattle-pastures and rocks ; we once met with a party near the snow-limit, sailing round high perpendicular cliffs. The voice of this species, like that of H. senegalensis and H. melanocrissa, is a very peculiar melancholy piping ‘ter,' which is often repeated several times in succession.”
In West Africa this Swallow appears to be confined to the Gold Coast districts. It was first noted near Cape Coast Castle by Dr. Gordon, whose specimen is now in the British Museum. Governor Pel procured it on the Rio Boutry, and a specimen from Ashantee was in the Gould collection ; but since the acquisition of the latter by the British Museum, the bird in question has been transferred to the duplicates, as the locality is thoroughly untrustworthy. This supposed Ashantee collection was bought by Gould from a dealer, and the skins were all of the ordinary Gold Coast ‘make.’ and we have no doubt that they were an ordinary lot from the neighbourhood of Cape Coast Castle. On the Gold Coast, Captain Shelley found the species everywhere abundant in January and February ; and Governor Ussher has given the following note :—
“Tolerably common in and about Cape Coast at certain seasons of the year. I did not observe it until February or March, but cannot positively assert that it is a regular migrant. A pair frequented the grounds of Government House at Cape Coast during the spring of 1871, building in a large stone-arched tank at the far end of the lawn. They appeared, in common with many African species, to be fond of sitting on the grass or gravel in the early morning. I have generally observed them in pairs, sometime singly, but never in flocks.”
Dr. Rochebrune has included this species in his ‘Fauna of Senegambia,’ and says it is decidedly common. No one else has ever met with the species in this part of West Africa, and the statement requires confirmation.
The descriptions arc from specimens in the British Museum, and the figures in the Plate have been drawn from a very line bird in the same.

A Monograph Of The Hirundinidae Or Family Of Swallows.
Sharpe, Richard Bowdler, and Claude Wilmott Wyatt. A Monograph of the Hirundinidae: Or Family of Swallows. Vol. 1. 1894.
Title in Book: 
Hirundo puella
Spp Author: 
Temm. & schl
Book Author: 
Richard Bowdler
Page No: 
Common name: 
Smaller Stripe Breasted Swallow
Cecropis abyssinica puella
Vol. 1

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