(1141) Delichon urbica urbica.
Hirundo urbica Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed. i, p. 192 (1758) (Sweden). Chelidon urbica* Blanf, & Oates, ii, p. 269.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Upper part of the head, back and scapulars black, glossed with deep blue; longest upper tail-coverts the same; wings and tail dull, rather brownish black, the lesser wing-coverts edged with blue gloss; rump, shorter upper and under tail-coverts white with some very faint brown shaft-lines; lower plumage white. A few of the white bases to the feathers of the hind neck often show as an indistinct collar.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black; legs and feet pale fleshy.
Measurements. Total length about 150 mm.; wing 104 to 112 mm.; tail 59 to 63 mm.; tarsus about 10 to 11 mm. ; culmen about 6 mm.
Young birds have the black portions of the plumage replaced by dull smoky-brown and the lower surface washed with fulvous-brown or smoky-brown; the inner secondaries have rather broad white tips.
Distribution. Europe, Eastern Asia to Turkestan, Persia, Afghanistan, Gilgit, Northern Kashmir to Leh and Latlakh. In Winter South to Africa and North-West India, wandering occasionally as far South as Coimbatore, Mysore (27th April) and the Central Provinces.
Nidification. The House-Martin breeds in Northern Europe in June and in the more Southern countries in the end of May, whilst in the Himalayas eggs may be found in June and July. It builds a nest made of tiny pellets of mud, stuck together when wet and well lined with feathers. In shape it is like a semi-cup, the edges taken up to the eaves of the building, which form the roof, leaving a small entrance at the top. In Europe it is practically always placed under the eaves of houses, but in Western Asia it more often than not breeds on cliffs and Osmaston found it breeding on cliffs in Ladakh between 12,000 and 14,200 feet under overhanging rocks. The only Indian eggs in my collection were taken at Taukse, Ladakh, by Col. Ward's collector, the parents of these eggs being typical D. u. urbica. The eggs are pure white and number four or five, rarely six. Fifty-four average (Witherby) 19.4 X 13.2 mm.
It has also been reported as breeding in Mysore in the Shemogat District. In this case a colony is said to have built their nests under a large overhanging rock in the bed of the river Tunga and, from the appearance of the place, had apparently bred there for many years.
Habits. The European House-Martin is a common Winter visitor to the North-West, of India, wandering occasionally as far South as Mysore and, more often, to the Central Provinces.It is as familiar and tame a bird in India as elsewhere, hawking for its insect food utterly regardless of lookers on. It arrives in its winter quarters in large but very scattered flocks in the end of October, leaving again in late March and early April.