(1160) Hirundo daurica striolate Temm. & Schl.
THE CHINESE STRIATED SWALLOW.
Hirundo daurica striolata, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iii, p. 249.
This, the largest and most boldly streaked of all the striated Swallows, is a common resident bird breeding in Central and South China, the Indo-Chinese countries and Burma, Java, Flores, Samba and Wetter Islands. In Assam it is an irregular Summer visitor and that only to the hills South of the Brahmapootra. In China it seems to move about locally, breeding in one area and wintering in another quite close by, while in other areas it is resident all the year round. In Java also it is a permanent breeding resident.
In Assam I found it breeding between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, making its nest in small colonies on steep cliff-sides but always under the shelter of some projecting rock or ledge. The nests were the usual mud retort-shaped nests of the genus lined thickly with feathers. In North Cachar the colony was a very scattered one of perhaps a dozen pairs. Many years ago I recorded:—“The place where I found them breeding is a lofty, very precipitous hill, overlooking the junction of the Jennam and Laisung streams. The South-East face consists of alternate tiers of perpendicular rock, from 5 to 50 feet high, and narrow ledges covered with grass and stunted jungle. Unfortunately I found the hill more than I could manage with one arm, and had to stop at a ledge below where most of the birds seemed to be congregated. Still there were a few Swallows about my ledge, and I could watch two pairs building only a few yards from me, while two other nests were also in sight. None of these nests were retort-shaped, all being mud semi-cups fastened against the surface of the rock and in each case well protected by a projecting piece of rock which overhung them. None of these four nests were completed, so I ordered my two Nagas on to the next ledge, from which they pointed out to me a nest which they said contained four eggs, and which was within their reach. On this I bad a noose set and soon had one of the birds captured. The nest and its con¬tents, together with the bird, were then brought down to me, but the mud part of the nest broke into pieces as it was being removed. The mud-work was very bulky and of considerable thickness, and it seemed to me to have been much larger than any nest of H. rustica. It contained an immense mass of feathers mixed with straw, completely hidden in which were the eggs, not four as first reported, but three ouly.” The bird from this nest was sent to Dr. Hartert and identified by him as H. striolate. The nests in the Khasia Hills were also all built on steep cliffs and were like those taken in North Cachar, but generally had tubular entrances.
In Burma this Swallow also breeds very commonly, but nearly always makes its nest under the eaves of temples or dwelling-houses, several nests being often found in one building. These nests also always have retort-shaped entrances. Livesey informs me that the rightful owners are often driven away by Micropus p. cooki and their neats used as breeding places by that Swift.
In China Vaughan and Jones found these Swallows breeding in great numbers in the temples and houses, and they remark that while in some places they form the tubular entrances to their homes, in other places such entrances are never made and the nests themselves are often open cups, though always protected by the building above.
The breeding season in Assam was April and early May but, if the first nests were destroyed, the birds rebuilt them and laid again. Normally I think few birds laid after the third week in May and as soon as the young were ready to fly they all departed.
In China the season is later and longer, and in the Vaughan Jones series there are eggs taken from the 4th May to the 4th July and, I am told, many birds begin to lay much earlier still.
The number of eggs laid is generally four, but often three only are incubated and, rarely, five may be laid.
They are white, but exceptionally an egg may be found with a few faint reddish specks on the larger end. The texture is fine and smooth and the eggs are fragile, but less so, I think, than those of the rustica group.
The eggs of Burmese, Javan and Assam birds are much bigger than those from China.
A series of forty eggs taken by Vaughan and Jones in China average 19.3 x 13.9 mm. : maxima 20.4 x 14.1 and 19.1 x 14.4 mm. ; minima 17.5 x 14.2 and 19.6 x 13.1 mm.
Thirty Indian eggs average 21.4 x 14.7 mm. ; maxima 23.2 x 15.1 and 21.2 x 16.8 mm. ; minima 20.2 x 15.3 and 21.4 x 14.3 mm.
Javan eggs average as big as Indian and Burmese eggs.
1160. Hirundo daurica striolata
(1160) Hirundo daurica striolate Temm. & Schl.