Chelidon urbica (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 344 (1766) ; (Naum.), vi. p. 75, Taf. 145, fig. 2 ; (Gould) B. of E. ii. pl. 57 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. ii. pl. 6 ; Hewitson, i. p. 261, pl. lxv. fig. 2 ; Newton, ii. p. 349 ; Dresser, iii. p. 495, pl. 162 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. x. p. 87 ; Oates, F. Brit. Ind. ii. p. 269 ; Saunders, p. 165 ; Lilford, ii. p. 80, pl. 37.
Hirondelle de fenetre, French ; Andorhina, Portug. ; Avion, Span. ; Rondine comune, Ital. ; Haus-Schwalbe, German ; Huiszwaluw, Dutch ; Marsvale, Dan. ; Tagsvale, Norw. ; Hussvala, Swed. ; Raystaspaaskynen, Finn. ; Lastotchka Gorodskaya, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Head, nape, back, and scapulars glossy blue-black ; rump, upper tail-coverts (except those nearest to the tail, which are black), and entire under parts white ; wings and tail black, slightly glossed with steel-blue ; tarsus and toes feathered ; bill black ; iris blackish brown. Culmen 0.35, wing 4.25, tail 2.65, tarsus 0.45 inch ; outer rectrices 0.85 longer than the middle ones. Sexes alike. The young bird is duller in colour, brownish with but little gloss where the old bird is black, has but a trace of the pectoral collar, and the under parts are dull white.
Hab. Europe, as far north as the South Varanger and Porsanger fiords, ranging east to Turkestan and west to the Canaries and Madeira ; wintering as far south as Central Africa and North-West India.
Like the Swallow it spends most of its time, during the day, on the wing, and captures its insect food in flight. It does not appear, however, to be quite so strong on the wing as that species, though quite as graceful. It usually arrives at its breeding-place a few days later than the Swallow, and if undisturbed will occupy the same nesting-place year after year. Its note is a low twitter, which, during the breeding season, is continued till it constitutes a sort of warble. The nest is placed under the eaves of a roof, in the upper corner of a window or on the face of a sheltered rock, and like that of the Swallow is constructed of mud mixed with short straws, and lined with hair, wool, or feathers, but instead of being open is built right up, having an entrance hole on the sheltered side. The eggs, which are usually deposited in June, 4 or 5 in number, are pure white, rather elongated in shape, tapering towards one end, and average about 0.75 by 0.55. Two broods are raised in the season, and, exceptionally, three.
396. Chelidon urbica