(1144) Delichon nipalensis Horsf. & Moore.
THE NEPAL HOUSE-MARTIN.
Delichon nipalensis, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 230.
This little House-Martin is found on the Outer Himalayas from. Naini Tal to Eastern Assam and in Cachar and Manipur.
In July 1893 I had a nest, four eggs and a bird of this species brought in to me by Cacharies, said to have been taken from a cliff under their village. In 1895 I visited this village at the end of April, and there saw the Martins not only flying about on the cliff- face below me but also in and out of the houses as well. The village, Banko, was built on a promontory overhanging a very steep rocky cliff, at the bottom of which ran the Boila stream, there forming the boundary between North Cachar and the Naga Hills. The colony, perhaps thirty or forty pairs, had their nests built in clusters under overhanging rocks near the top of the cliff, one such cluster being under a rock which formed a site for one of the houses. Inside this house, and affixed to the massive wooden beams which supported the roof, were three half-built nests, exactly like those of Enghsh House-Martins, fixed in corners under the beams. Later one of these nests, four eggs, and the parent birds were brought to me. The nest, naturally much broken, was exactly like that of the other House-Martins, made of pellets of mud and lined densely with feathers, mostly of domestic fowls, hut also of the Great Himalayan Barbet and of Green Pigeons.
The colony of nests on the cliff could not be got at even with ropes, but we could see them very distinctly from the stream below. The Cacharies told me that the principal breeding season was in April and May but that many birds had second broods in July.
In 1908 Whymper found them breeding near Naini Tal, and thus records his find (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xix, p, 909, 1909):—“I have been on the look-out round Naini Tal for several years for the nests of Chelidon nepalensis, a resident species apparently, and last December, while taking a Lammergeyer’s nest, we were overjoyed to see a vast number of mud nests on the cliff and a good number of Chelidon nipalensis hawking round them. The nests were mostly in inaccessible places, but after a prolonged survey we decided that some of the lower nests might be got at. So on April the 3rd we went with ropes and long bamboos, but found to our horror that twelve common bees-nests were scattered about among these lower nests, making it quite impossible to attempt them. Very high up, however, there was one small new colony free from bees, and although it seemed impossible to get at them, my men by climbing up to a narrow ledge, drawing up bamboos and lashing them together, succeeded in reaching this small colony of about twenty nests. It was a fine feat of climbing, and our grief was great when we found nearly all the eggs too hard-set to blow, and only eight of them were saved. I calculated there were over 3,000 nests in sight, there being three main colonies of abont seven hundred nests in each and many smaller colonies. The neats were in masses touching each other, mostly under overhanging cliffs, but in some cases they were exposed to the weather, and the foot of the cliff was covered with a debris of fallen nests and droppings to a depth of several feet. The nests and eggs resemble almost exactly those of the Kashmir Martin ; the elevation is about 4,500 feet above sea-level.”
Later, in 1917, on the 10th June, Whymper discovered another colony breeding in Tehri Garhwal at an elevation of 13,000 feet but again was unfortunate, and only succeeded in obtaining five eggs which were blowable.
A. E. Osmaston also found colonies in Garhwal hut at much lower elevations, i. e., 7,000 feet. He writes (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxviii, p. 153, 1921):—“In 1913 I obtained eggs on the 19th June, but in many nests the young had already been hatched. In one favoured spot I counted 50 nests built over a space of about two square yards. The cliff where the birds were nesting is in the middle of a hanj (Quercus incana) forest.” This colony did not make tubular entrances to their nests.
The eggs are only distinguishable from those of the European House-Martins by their small size.
Twenty-one eggs average 18.6 x 12.8 mm. : maxima 20.0 x 13.1 and 18.3 x 13.4 mm. ; minima 17.2 x 12.7 and 10.6 x 11.3 mm.
1144. Delichon nipalensis
(1144) Delichon nipalensis Horsf. & Moore.