CHELIDON LAGOPUS (Pall.).
Hirundo lagopoda, Pall. Zoogr. Ross.-Asiat, i. p. 532 (1811) ; Severtz. Turkest. Jevotn, p. 67 (1873) ; Dresser, Ibis, 1876, p. 188 ; Seebohm, Brit. B. iii. p. 179 (1884) ; Stejn. Bull. U.S. Nat. Mus. no. 29, p. 323 (1885).
Hirundo urbica (non L.), Middend. Reis. Sibir., Zool. p. 189 (1851) ; Schrenk, Amur Reise, p. 388 (1859) ; Radde, Reis. Sibir., Vog. p. 280 (1883).
Chelidon urbica (non L.), Tickell, J. A. S. Beng. xxiv. p. 227, footnote (1855) ; Blyth, B. Burm. p. 127 (1875) ; Hume & Davison, Str. P. 1878, p. 45 ; Hume, Str. P. 1879, p. 84 (pt.).
Chelidon whitelyi, Swinh. P. Z. S. 1862, p. 320 ; id. Ibis, 1874, p. 152, pl. vii. fig. 2 ; Dresser, B. Eur. iii. p. 498 (1875).
Chelidon lagopoda, Swinh. Ibis, 1863, p. 91; id. P. Z. S. 1863, p. 287 ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 74, no. 881 (1869) ; Swinh. P. Z. S. 1871, p. 347 ; Tacz. J. f. O. 1872, p. 352, 1874, p. 334 ; Dybowski, J. f. O. 1876, p. 192 ; Tacz. Bull. Soc. France, i. p. 134 (1876) ; David & Oust. Ois. Chine, p. 130 (1877) ; Seebohm, Ibis, 1879, p. 17 ; Severtz. Ibis, 1883, p. 80 ; Oates, B. Brit. Burm. i. p. 311 (1883).
Chelidon lagopus, Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 93 (1885).
C. subeaudalibus albis : supraeaudalibus omnibus albis uropygio coneoloribus.
Hab. in Asia orientali et centrali.
Adult female. General colour above, glossy blue-black, the hind neck and mantle varied with white bases to the feathers ; wing-coverts and quills blackish brown, the former slightly glossed with blue- black on the margins ; rump and all the upper tail-coverts white, washed with smoky brown, with dusky shaft-lines ; tail-feathers blackish brown ; lores black, as well as the feathers round the eye ; cheeks and ear-coverts white, the upper margin of the latter blue-black ; under surface of body white, the throat tinged with reddish buff; the sides of the body and flanks pale smoky brown ; thighs and plumes of leg white ; under tail-coverts white, with distinct shaft-lines of dusky brown ; under wing-coverts and axillaries dark smoky brown, the outermost small coverts tipped with white ; quills dusky brown below, paler along the inner web. Total length 1.6 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 1.1, tail 2.05, tarsus 0.45.
The type of C. whitelyi, Swinh., in .Mr. Seebohm’s collection, differs from the bird described only in having the dusky shaft-lines on the rump and upper and under tail-coverts less distinct, and in wanting the rufescent tinge on the throat.
Hab. Siberia from the Yen-e-say valley eastwards, probably as far as Kamtschatica. Southwards throughout Mongolia and China to Turkestan and occasionally as far south as Burmah.
THIS is the eastern representative of our Common Martin, from which species it differs in its less forked tail, and in the colour of the upper tail-coverts, which are pure white like the rump, whereas in C. urbica they are black.
It ranges from the valley of the Yen-e-say Hiver across Siberia, and even occurs in Kamtschatka, according to Pallas ; but on this point Dr. Stejneger writes :—“Nothing definite is known, and the statement is very doubtful, though it may be remembered that it is said to occur at Gischiginsk.” Pallas states that it nests in bouses and is strictly protected by the natives, who do not like to see the birds shot. It builds under rafters and roofs of houses, and he says that in the sandy banks of the Irtisch Hiver it makes holes in the river-banks. This last statement may be received with some doubt. In Dauuria the same author states that it also breeds, arriving there in April, and that the nests are similar to those of C. urbica. Dr. Dybowski met with the species on the Argun River in Dauuria, and Dr. Taczanowski says that the species is common over the whole of Eastern Siberia and extends to the southern border of the Ussuri country.
Radde collected a specimen on the 9th of May at Tarei-nor. He says that the species comes during the last days of April. He saw it on the 26th of that month in Kiachta, and to the eastward of the Apple Mountains it was also observed About the same time near Tschita. During von Middendorffi travels in Siberia, he saw a flock on the 10th of May on the western slope of the Stanovoi Mountains, and again he noticed it on the Yen-e-say River at about 70° N. lat. He also states that it comes yearly to Turuchans’k.
Von Schrenk mentions that a specimen was procured by him at Nertschinsk on the 7th of May. He never met with it in Lower Amoor-Land, and he draws attention to the fact that Middendorff only found it on the western slope of the Stanovoi Mountains, and not in the Udskoi Ostrog district, which is continuous with Lower Amoor Land. Prom this he gathers that the Martins only remain in these districts during migration, and that they pass on to live in the inaccessible mountains, and so they escape the observa¬tion of the traveller.
Dr. Dybowski says that in Eastern Siberia this Martin is common at the beginning of May, building under the eaves of houses. A few pairs were found at the foot of naked spurs of the Chamardaban Mountains. They were also nesting on the rocks near a waterfall on the river Bystra, about 4000 feet above the level of Lake Baikal. He also saw it near the Changinsk post, about 4300 feet above the sea-level. Six or eight eggs are laid in the middle of June. They leave the vicinity of Kultuk towards the end of August or the beginning of September.
The following note on the species is given by Mr. Henry Seebohm in his account of his travels in Siberia :—“This bird was the only Chelidon which I obtained on the Yen-e-say. Several pairs arrived on the Arctic circle about the 11th of June, and were soon busy hawking for flies and examining their old nests. In the village of Koo-ray-i-ka, opposite the mouth of the river of that name, they swarmed in thousands. The nest exactly resembles that of our House-Martin, but the birds seemed to be very capricious in selecting a house where they might trust their young. One house in particular seemed to be the favourite ; and here the eaves were crowded with rows of nests, in some places three or four deep. The eggs are, if anything, larger than those of our bird, but are also pure white. I observed this bird up to 69° N. lat., where a few pairs were breeding. I could not perceive any difference in the habits or notes of these birds and those of our own species. On the return journey I noticed a colony, doubtless of these birds, which had built their nests against the limestone cliffs of the Kah’-nin Pass, as our bird fre¬quently does in the limestone districts of Yorkshire, the Parnassus, &c. As I passed through Yen-e-saisk in the middle of August, the House-Martins were swarming on the church-towers, preparing for departure on their autumn migration. When these Swallows began to make preparations for breeding, the ‘ Thames’ was riding at anchor in the Koo-ray-i-ka. Some scores of these birds evidently took a great fancy to the ship, and began to build their nests on the sails under the yard-arms.”
According to the late Dr. Severtzoff the present species occurs on passage in Turkestan, and probably breeds there ; but he did not meet with it on the Pamir. General Prjevalsky found it breeding in Mongolia, to the north-east of Yulduz.
Mr. Fleming, R.A., procured a specimen near Pekin which the late Mr. Swinhoe described as a new species under the name of Chelidon whitelyi, though he soon after¬wards found that it was the same as C. lagopus. “This specimen,” he writes, “is the only one of this species from China that I have ever handled ; and the only time that I ever saw the bird alive was on the 8th of April, 1869, when, on some hills near the river Yangtsze, about 1000 miles up its course, a pair of White-rumped Martins flew about over the heads of our party, in company with many Dauurian and a few Common Swallows.”
Abbe David has also met with the species in China, nesting on the lofty rocks of the mountains to the west of Pekin, as well as at Moupin and in the Central provinces. They seemed to differ from the Common Martin in that they were nowhere plentiful, and he never observed them in towers or in the immediate vicinity of buildings.
From the above resume of this bird’s history it will be seen that we do not know much of its winter home. Colonel Tickell writes that he found Martins in great numbers near Moulmein in Burmah, where they “appear from time to time ; not constantly, as does H. rustica.” Prom Tickell’s description and figure there is, as Mr. Seebohm has pointed out (Hist. Brit. B. ii. p. 179, note), no doubt about the species, as the bird is described and figured with the upper tail-coverts white ; but no one has met with it in Burmah since—neither Mr. Oates, Captain Bingham, nor Mr. Davison—and it cannot be considered a regular winter visitant to that country. Colonel Tickell would seem to have been witness to an accidental migration of the species.
The description and the figure in the Plate are both taken from a specimen kindly lent to us by Mr. Seebohm.
CHELIDON LAGOPUS (Pall.).