Hirundo rufula

Hirundo daurica, Savi, Orn. Tose., iii. p. 201 (1831, nec. L.) ; Selys Longch. Ibis. 1870, p. 453.
Hirundo alpestris (nec Pall.), Bp. Faun. Ital., Ucc. Intr. p. xxx (1832) ; Heugl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 158 (1869) ; Borggr. Vogelf. Deutsch, p. 100 (1869) ; Blanf. Geol. & Zool. Abyss, p. 346 (1870).
Hirundo rufula, Temm. Man. iii. p. 298 (1835, syn. cxcl.) ; Werner, Atlas. Cheli- dones, pl. 1 a ; Schl. & Susem. Vog. Eur. vi. Taf. 1. fig. 2 (c. 1839) ; Gray, Gen. B. i. p. 58 (1845) ; Schl. Rev. Crit. pp. xviii, 41 (1844) ; Bp. Consp, i. p. 339 (1850) ; Brehm, J. f. O. 1853, p. 453 ; Tristr. Ibis, 1859, p. 27 ; Linderm. Vog. Griechenl. p. 119 ; Simpson, Ibis, 1860, p. 289 ; Blasius, Nachtr. Naum. Vog. Deutschl, xiii. p. 209, Taf. 383. fig. 4 (1860) ; Dubois, Ois. Eur. pl. 34 (c. 1862) Blasius, Ibis, 1862, p. 65 ; Gray, Cat. Brit. B. p. 33 (1863) ; Wright. Ibis. 1864. pp. 42, 57 ; Giglioli, Ibis, 1865, p. 51 ; Tristr, t. c. p. 79 ; id. Ibis. 1867. p. 362 ; Degl. et Gerbe, Orn. Eur. i. p. 590 (1867) ; Doderl. Avif. Sicil. p. 144 (1869) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 69, no. 808 (1869) ; Saunders, Ibis, 1869, p. 396 ; Selys Longch. Ibis, 1870, p. 453 ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 314 ; Salvad. Faun. Ital.. Ucc. p. 53 (1871) ; Shelley, B. Egypt, p. 122 (1872) ; Dresser, B. Eur. iii. p. 187. pl. 161 (1875) ; Lilford, Ibis, 1875, p. 16 ; Cordeaux, t. c. p. 184 ; Dresser. Ibis. 1876, p. 188 ; Blanf. East. Persia, ii. p. 215 (1876) ; Wardlaw Ramsay. Ibis. 1880, p. 48 ; Giglioli, Avif. Ital. p. 64 (1881) ; id. Ibis, 1881, p. 192 ; Scully. t, c. p. 427 ; B. O. U. List Brit, B. p. 43 (1883) ; Seebohm, Ibis 1883. p. 169 : Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 156 (1885) ; id. Ibis, 1886, p. 497 ; salvad. Elench. Ucc. Ital. p. 83 (1887).
Lillia rufula, Boie, J. f. O. 1838, p. 364.
Hirundo capensis (nec Gm.), Duraz. Ucc. Lig. p. 14 (1810).
Cecropis rufula, Boie, Isis, 1844, p. 174 ; Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Philad. Aead. p. 4 (1853) ; Vierth. Naum. 1855, p. 472 ; Gould, B. Asia. i. pl. 27 (1868). Cecropis alpestris (nec Pall.), Heugl. Syst. Uebers. p. 16 (1856) ; Severtz. Turkest. Jevotn. P. 67 (1873).
Hirundo (Cecropis) rufula, Jaub, et Barth.-Lap. Rich. Orn. p. 308. pl. 19. fig. 4 (1859).
Hirundo daurica (nec L.), Wright. Ibis, 1864. pp. 42. 57. & 1874. p. 233. Hirundo nipalensis (nec Hodgs.), Biddulph, Ibis. 1881. p. 17.
Hirundo erythropygia (nec Sykes), Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 47, note.
Hirundo scullii, Seebohm, Ibis, 1883, p. 168 ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 158 (1885).
H. uropygio rufo, postice albicante, fasciam exhibente ; pileo dorsoque concoloribus : torque cervicali rufa.
Hab. in subregione Mediterraneo-Persica usque ad montes Himalayenses et Asiam Centralem.
Adult male. General colour above glossy purplish blue, with white streaks on the back where the white bases to the feathers show through ; wing-coverts like the back ; bastard-wing feathers, primary-coverts, and quills blackish, externally washed with dull steel-blue ; rump pale cinnamon-rufous, verging into creamy white on the upper tail-coverts, the longer ones of which are purplish blue with pale cinnamon-buff bases ; tail-feathers blackish glossed with dull blue ; crown of head purplish blue, forming a cap, which is separated from the mantle by the cinnamon-coloured sides of the neck, which converge from behind the eye to the nape, where they form a collar ; base of forehead and a narrow line over the eye cinnamon-rufous cheeks and ear-coverts pale sandy buff, the lores mixed with dusky plumes ; entire under surface of body pale cinnamon-buff, a little deeper on the fore neck, breast, and flanks ; the throat very minutely, and the rest of the body a little more distinctly, striated with narrow dusky shaft-lines ; sides of upper breast purplish blue ; thighs and under tail-coverts creamy whitish, the longer coverts blue-black with creamy white bases ; axillaries and under wing-coverts pale sandy buff, the coverts near the edge of the wing with blackish shaft-lines ; quills dusky below, paler along the edge of the inner web. Total length 7.8 inches, culmen 0.35, wing 4.8, tail 4.15, tarsus 0.5.
Adult female. Exactly like the male in colour. Total length 7.5 inches, culmen 0.35, wing 4.7, tail 3.85, tarsus 0.55.
Obs. In many specimens the crown of the head appears as if connected with the mantle by a few purplish-blue feathers ; this is, however, due to the faulty preparation of the skin, as in properly preserved examples the collar on the hind neck is perfect. We have seen only one young bird which has also this partial connexion between the crown and mantle, but we do not consider it to be simply a sign of immaturity ; for in fact many of the young birds have as well marked a collar as the finest of the adults.
Young. Much duller in colour than the adult, being blackish glossed with steel-blue, the rufous colour on the neck and rump very much paler ; wing-coverts and secondaries tipped with pale rufous ; beneath paler than in the adult, the throat and abdomen whitish, the fore neck rufescent ; the throat and breast with tolerably distinet dusky shaft-lines ; axillaries and under wing-coverts pale cinnamon, rather deeper than in the adult. Total length 6.8 inches, wing 4.8, tail 3.2, tarsus 0.55.
The race which Mr. Seebohm separated as H. scullii from Nepal differs in no respect from true H. rufala except by its smaller size, a distinction which seems to be fairly constant, but one which we now hardly think requires the separation of the eastern birds under a subspecific title. The following are the measurements of the wing in the series in the British Museum, and we
fully expect that connecting-links between the smallest H. rufala and the largest H. scullii be discovered:—
a. H. rufala.
Male. in. Female in. Sex Unknown. In.
a. Marocco. … … 4.7
b. Genoa. … … 4.8
c, d, e. Cyprus. 4.75
f. Greece. 4.85
g. Smyrna. … 4.75
h, i. Smyrna. … 4.7
k, l. Smyrna. 4.85
m. Smyrna. 4.9
n. Smyrna. … … 4.6
o. p. Tiberias. 4.65
q. Nazareth. … 4.7
r. Mt. Tabor. 4.6
s. Mt. Carmel. … 4.8
t. Banias. 4.8
u. Wady El Beerha. 4.8
v, w. Bushire. 4.8 4.6
x. Baluehistan. 4.7
b. H. sevllii.
Sex unknown. In.
a. Pushut. 1.15
b. Pushut. 1.35
c. Byan Kheyl. 5
d. Nepal. 1.4
e. Nepal. 1.15
Hab. Countries of the Mediterranean from the South of France and Italy, Algeria and Marocco east¬wards to Greece and Asia Minor, Palestine, and Egypt, extending southwards to Abyssinia, and eastwards through Southern Persia to Turkestan, Afghanistan, and the Himalayas as far as Nepal.
THIS pretty Swallow is an inhabitant of South-eastern Europe and the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, whence it extends eastwards to the Himalayas and Turkestan, and southwards to Abyssinia.
It has occurred once in Heligoland, a specimen obtained on the 31st of May. 1855. being in the famous collection of Mr. Gatke. Its occurrence in England has also been noted, one having been reported as seen at Penzance by the late Mr. Rodd ef. B. O. U. List Br. B. p. 43).
In the Mediterranean countries this Swallow has not been recorded from Spain, or from Corsica or Sardinia. MM. Jaubert and Barthelemy-Lapommeraye record the capture of several specimens in the South of France.
Count Salvadori’s note on the species in Italy is as follows:—“A rare bird, of which specimens are captured in certain years in the Mari district, in Sicily, and in Liguria ; it is also said to be found in Malta, in Tuscany, and in Piedmont. The nesting of the species on the old temple of Segesta in Sicily has still to be verified. Professor Giglioli writes:—“A rarity with us, and occurring less frequently at Genoa and at Bani. as far as my information goes. On the 25th of March. 1877, the first Swallow I saw flying over the Arno in Florence, between S. Trinita bridge and Ponte Vecehio, was a specimen of this species, its reddish rump glowing conspicuously in the sunlight. I saw it again the next day, together with Chelidon urbica ; it afterwards disappeared. Our collection possesses two specimens, a male shot near Genoa in May 1859, and a female shot at Bari in August 1874. I believe that a few couples breed with us.” In his paper on the birds of Malta and Gozo, Mr. C. A. Wright observes :—" I was long of opinion it would turn up in Malta ; but it was not until 5th April, 1862, that I had the pleasure of seeing it. Out shooting with Dr. Leith Adams, at the Salini, we distinctly recognized three individuals, of which Dr. Adams succeeded in shooting one. We noticed at the same time H. rustica and H. riparia, of which I shot two or three. A strong easterly wind was blowing ; indeed, easterly winds had prevailed for some days, to which was owing the presence of H. rufula so far to the westward of its usual habitat. A day or two subsequently, Dr. Adams obtained another specimen from the same place, and saw several others. There are two specimens in the Malta University, evidently taken many years ago, but no locality or time is given. Another example of this rare visitor was taken in April 1870.”
Professor Doderlein states that it is not uncommon near Messina, and Lord Lilford believes that he saw the species near Catania on the 24th of March.
In Algeria, Loche states that it is of very rare occurrence, and Mr. Dresser is inelined to doubt the capture of the species in that country ; but there is no question that Loche had grounds for his assertion, as it is undoubtedly found in Marocco. A specimen was presented to the British Museum in 1886 by Mr. Kirby Green, C.M.G., who has given us the accompanying note :—“ A male bird was killed at M’tourga on the spurs of the Atlas, close to the place where Mr. Herbert White shot the Geronticus. I observed this Swallow in the villages higher up, also along the coast of Mogador to half¬way between Rabat and Tangier. It was nowhere very numerous.”
With regard to the species in Greece, we borrow from Mr. Dresser’s ‘Birds of Europe’ the translation of Dr. Kruper's aeeount:—“ It is found in Aearnania, from the extreme point of the Vorassova Mountains opposite Patras, along the mountain-range to the Phidaris (Euenos) river, from there along the Zygos Mountains to the Aspropotamos (Aeheloos) ; to the north near the harbour of Astaeo, in the Klissura, near Vraehori, and four hours’ walk from there on the road between Prostova and Carpenisi. We further met with it on the Parnassus, near the villages of Araehova, Agorian, Gravia, Mandates, Dadi, and most commonly near Velitza. Doubtless it ranges further north in Turkey, perhaps as far as Dalmatia. It certainly inhabits also the southern portion of Greece and the Peloponnesus. It doubtless arrives about the same time in Aearnania as Hirundo rustica and H. urbica. Last year I saw the first H. rustica on the 20th March, and the first H. urbica and H. rufula on the 26th of that month. They probably leave in October. I frequently saw them late in September on the Parnassus.” Mr. Seebohm, however, informs us that, according to his experience, it arrives a full month later than the Martin and Chimney-Swallow.
Mr. W. H. Hudleston, in his interesting account of an expedition to Mesolonghi and Southern AEtolia, writes :—“But the greatest curiosity of all was to be seen under a large flat slab which projected enough to afford convenient shelter during a shower of rain. This was a nest of H. rufula, which had been broken at one end, and consequeatly abandoned by the bird. Meanwhile a Nuthatch had come and repaired the damage, possibly with the idea of appropriating the nest. The difference of the workmanship, and to a certain extent in the materials, was very apparent when the two were in juxta¬position. In shape the nest of H. rufula is so different from that of any other European bird, that this proceeding on the part of the Nuthatch was still more extraordinary.”
Numerous specimens collected by Dr. Kruper near Smyrna are in the British Museum, and Lord Lilford has recently presented to the same institution three specimens obtained by Dr. Guillemard in Cyprus. In Palestine, writes Canon Tristram, “ this handsome Swallow returns at the end of March ; plentiful everywhere, but most numerous in the lower and warmer parts of the country. Though feeding in flocks. I never knew this bird to breed in company ; and very rarely were two nests to be found in one cave. The nest is a beautiful structure, composed of the same materials as that of the House-Martin, but is invariably attached to the flat surface of the underside of the roof of a cave or vault ..... A favourite breeding-place of H. rufula is under the arches of the Monastery on Mount Carmel. The eggs arc four in number, pure white, considerably larger than those of the House-Martin, and flatter at the small end.’’
Capt. Shelley found the species throughout Egypt and Nubia, but it is of rare occurrence. “Towards the end of March I constantly saw a pair flying over a marsh near Damietta, and on the 30th of that month obtained one of them." Dr. A. Brehm states that he saw one only in Nubia, near Ibrim, on the 3rd of April, and met with it on another occasion, in company with our Chimney-Swallow, in Egypt. The late Baron von Heuglin says that he saw the species in the same localities, near Der. and on the 9th of April near Anaho, on the western slopes of the Abyssinian Highlands. Mr. W. T. Blanford obtained two specimens at Koomayli in February.
We have received a pair of specimens from Mr. A. J. V. Palmer, collected at Bushire, where he also found the eggs. Mr. Blanford writes:—“ I only met with this Swallow in Southern Persia and part of Beluchistan. It was more common near Shiraz than elsewhere, and I never met with it farther to the north.”
According to Dr. Severtzoff it breeds throughout Turkestan, at an altitude of from 4000 to 6000 feet, and it also occurs in Afghanistan, where the late Dr. Griffith procured two specimens near Pushut, and Capt. Wardlaw-Ramsay also met with the species at Byan Kheyl. These all belong to the smaller eastern race (Hirundo scullii of Seebohm) of which Colonel Biddulph shot two specimens at Gilgit on the 16th of May, among a large number of Chelidon casiriensis. Dr. Scully says that "ut us a summer visitor to Gilgit, but never appears to be common.” The same gentleman has also procured the species in Nepal, whence came Mr. Seebohm's types of H. scullii.
In 1870 we were responsible for the statement that H. rufula went to Dauuria.
This we made on the faith of a specimen purchased from the Maison Verreaux. For¬tunately the specimen passed into the collection of Mr. H. E. Dresser, who found from the original Russian label still on the specimen that it had been shot near Karatau in Turkestan, which is probably its furthest eastern limit in Central Asia.
Mr. Seebohm contributed the following note to Mr. Dresser’s ‘Birds of Europe ’:— “ I found Hirundo rufula breeding both at Nymphion, east of Smyrna, and in the Parnassus. Both in Asia Minor and in Greece it is a summer visitor only, arriving early in April, at least a month later than its congeners Hirundo rustica and H. urbica. Fresh-laid eggs may be obtained from the middle of May to the middle of June. I did not meet with any evidence of its breeding a second time, except when the first nest had been destroyed or disturbed before the eggs were hatched. I have a young bird in full plumage of the first year, shot on the 30th of July. During the breeding-season it frequents the warm sheltered valleys in the highest parts of the vine-regions. We never met with it so high up as the pine-regions. On the wing Hirundo rufula is quite as much at home as H. rustica or H. urbica, and may not unfrequently be seen hawking for flies in company with both these species. It may, however, be easily distinguished from those birds at some distance, as it possesses the long forked tail of the one in addition to the white rump of the other. It may also be distinguished by its note, which resembles that of H. rustica, but may be described as a low whit compared with the loud whet of that bird. The limestone crags of the Parnassus and of Asia Minor east of Smyrna abound in caves, on the roofs of which this bird builds it curious nest ; but so far as my observation goes it never breeds in colonies. The nest is built of mud, and is very similar to that of Hirundo urbica, with the addition of a funnel at the top made of the same material, the entrance to which is slightly bent downward, so that the whole structure reminds one of a chemist’s retort. It is lined with dry grass and feathers. The eggs, from four to five in number, are pure white, a size smaller than those of Hirundo urbica, and less pointed at the smaller end than the eggs of that species usually are, measuring from 33/40 by 23/40 to 31/40 by 22/40 inch. From the similarity of this bird to H. rustica one might have expected the egg to be spotted ; but whereas the eggs of H. rustica and Cotyle rupestris may always be seen in the nest, those of H. rufula, H. urbica, and C. riparia never can be. In this family the colouring of the egg seems to bear no relation to generic distinction as it does amongst the Warblers, but would seem to be entirely dependent on the greater or less concealment afforded by the construction and position of the nest. Both in the neighbourhood of Smyrna and in the Parnassus the bird is comparatively local and rare, but is much more abundant in Aearnania."
The figure in the Plate and the descriptions of this species have been taken from specimens in the British Museum.

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 rufula
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Richard Bowdler
Page No: 
Common name: 
Red Rumped Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Cecropis daurica
Vol. 1
Term name: 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith