HIRUNDO AETHIOPICA, W. Blanf.
Hirundo rufifrons (non V.), Des Murs in Lefebvr. Voy. Abyss. Zool. p. 78 (1845) : Heugl. J. f. O. 1861, p. 420, 1863, p. 168 ; Hartm. J. f. O. 1864, p. 152.
Cecropis rufifrons (non V.), Vierth. Naum. 1853, p. 21 ; Brehm, J. f. O. 1853, p. 453. Extrah. p. 96 ; Heugl. Syst. Uebers, p. 16 ; Vierth. Naum. 1857. p. 110 ; Brehm, Reis. Habesch, p. 209 (1863).
Hirundo albigularis (nec Strickl ), Heugl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 153 (1869).
Hirundo oethiopica, Blanf. Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. iv. p. 329 (1869) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 401, no. 794a (1869) ; Blanf. Geol. & Zool. Abyss, p. 347, pl. 2 (1870) ; Finsch, Tr. Z. S. vii. p. 218 (1870) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 309 ; id. Cat. Afr. B. p. 46, no. 432 (1871) ; Antin. & Salvad. Viagg. Bogos, p. 72 (1873) ; Cab. J. f. O 1878, p. 223 ; Fischer & Reichen. t. c. p. 257 ; iid. op. cit. 1879, p. 344 ; Shelley. Ibis, 1883, p. 547 ; Fischer in Madarasz, Zeitschr, ges. Orn. i. p. 357 (1884) ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 146 (1885).
H. uropygio pileoque caeruleis, dorso coucoloribus ; fronte castanea ; gula albicante vel pallide fulva ; torque praepectorali interrupta.
Hab. in Africa, septentrionali-orientali et orientali et in Africa occidentali eis-equatoriali.
Adult female (type of species). General colour above purplish blue, slightly varied with greyish white bases to the feathers of the upper mantle ; wing-coverts like the back, with a greyish-white spot on the inner web of the innermost greater coverts ; bastard-wing, primary-coverts, and quills blackish, externally glossed with steel-blue ; upper tail-coverts like the back ; tail-feathers blackish, glossed with steel-blue, all but the centre leathers having a rounded white spot on their inner web, rather more ovate on the outermost feather ; crown of head like the back. with a broad frontal band of rufous ; lores blackish ; ear-coverts black, glossed with blue ; checks and throat pale rufescent buff ; remainder of the under surface creamy white, with a crescentic mark of purplish blue on the sides of the chest, forming a half-collar ; sides of body slightly shaded with ashy ; thighs and under tail-coverts creamy white ; under wing-coverts and axillaries like the breast ; quills below dusky, a little more ashy along the inner edge : "bill and feet black ; iris brown” (Fischer). Total length 5.2 inches, culmen 0.35, wing 4.3 tail 2.2 tarsus 0.4.
The adult male does not differ in colour from the female. Total length 5.7 inches, culmen 0.35. wing 4.4, tail 1.55 (longest feather 2.6), tarsus 0.4.
The young bird differs from the adult in being dusky blackish, merely glossed with purplish blue, with obsolete pale edges of sandy brown, the quills and tail-feathers margined with ashy whitish at the tips ; base of forehead and a line over the eye pale rufous, but not forming a frontal band ; underneath as in the adults, but the under wing-coverts washed with pale rufous-buff like the throat.
Hab. North-eastern Africa, southwards from Bogos-land to the Zanzibar region on the east coast. West Africa, from Senegambia to the Niger.
This is the northern representative of the large Hirundo albigularis of the Cape. In North-eastern Africa Yon Heuglin says that it occurs from 20°-21° north latitude south¬wards along the Nile and in Abyssinia, reaching in the latter country to at least 10,000 feet ; it is less common on the Red Sea. In Bogos-land it makes its appearance with the first summer rain and stays until December. Mr. W. T. Blanford, who was the first naturalist to discriminate the species, met with it at Barakit in Tigre, during the Abyssinian expedition. Mr. W. Jesse obtained specimens at Kokai and Bejook in the Bogos country, and the late Marquis Antinori at Keren in the same country. According to the latter observer, it arrives in Bogos-land in May and leaves in August. It does not seem to have been met with by the expedition to Shoa commanded by the same intrepid explorer.
In East Africa it was first obtained by the late Dr. Hildebrandt, who procured specimens at Mombasa, and says that it was sparsely spread over the whole country visited by him. Dr. Fischer also met with it in the same district, where it is called by the natives “M’barui.” The latter naturalist also procured the species at Malindi, and during his last expedition he says that it was found on the steppes between Kilima'njaro and Maeru mountain. It was the only Swallow seen by him everywhere from the coast to the Naiwascha Lake, and it only occurred singly. He found it nesting at Maurui at the end of February, where a pair had built in the hole of a tree-stump standing out of the water. The late Dr. Bohm believed that he saw the present species at Zanzibar.
According to Dr. Vierthaler, it breeds near Khartoom in August and September, building its nest against the ceilings of rooms, exactly as H. rustica docs in Europe, the nest being open above. It lays three eggs, which are white spotted with rufous. He speaks of this species as the common Swallow of North-eastern Africa, and states that it arrives in March and leaves at the beginning of November. He found it breeding northwards from New Dongola, but not in Northern Nubia or Upper Egypt, where its place is taken by Hirundo savignii. The nest resembles that of H. rustica, and the eggs are similarly coloured.
Dr. Hartmann (J. f. O. 1884, p. 152) met with two pairs of this Swallow breeding in a hole in an Adansonia, tree. The nests were plastered together with the mud from the Fulah, and contained respectively three and four spotted eggs. In the parts of Equatorial Africa visited by the above naturalist, this elegant little bird was the House-Swallow of the country ; and as it could not always find suitable breeding-places in the low straw huts of the Fundj Negroes, it often occupied the holes of trees as well as clefts in the rocks, in which it placed its mud-built nest.
During his expedition to Bogos-land, the late Marquis Antinori found the species inhabiting the huts of the natives and building its nest on the beams which supported the roof, and many couples constructed their nests in a large hutbe;pmgomg the mission at Keren. A pair built in the hut of the traveller, and made a nest below the frame of a net on which the bird-skins were dried and which was placed above his bed. The Swallows seemed delighted to live in this place, and cheered the travellers in the early morning with their varied notes. No notice was taken by the birds of the noise made by the inhabitants of the hut, and the young were duly hatched, but were ultimately found dead in the nest without any apparent cause.
In West Africa it has been procured by the late Mr. W. A. Forbes at Shonga and Lukoja on the river Niger, and Mr. F. Nicholson has received a specimen from Abeokuta, which he presented to the British Museum. Dr. de Rochebrune does not include it among the birds of Senegambia, but a specimen is in the British Museum from the last-named country. This specimen was formerly in the Sharpe collection, to which it was presented by Mr. E. L. Layard. The exact circumstances under which it was obtained by Mr. Layard were not recorded at the time, but we believe that he procured it on one of his homeward journeys from the Cape to England.
The specimen figured is in Capt. Shelley’s collection, and the description is from the type specimen in the British Museum.
HIRUNDO AETHIOPICA, W. Blanf.