HIRUNDO NIGRITA, Gray.
Hirundo nigrita, Gray, Gen. B. i. pl. 40 (1845) ; id. Cat. Fissir. Brit. Mus. p. 27 (1848) ; Allen & Thoms. Exped. Niger, ii. p. 498 (1848) ; Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Philad. Aead. p. 3 (1853) ; Hartl. J. f. O. 1855, p. 360 ; Cass. Proe. Philad. Acad. 1859, p. 33 ; DuChaillu, Equat. Afr. p. 472 (1862) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 71, no. 829 (1869) ; Sharpe, Cat, Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 148 (1885).
Atticora nigrita, Bp. Consp, i. p. 337 (1853) ; Hartl. Orn. W.-Afr. p. 25 (1857).
Waldenia nigrita, Sharpe, Ibis, 1869, p. 461 ; id. P. Z. S. 1870, p. 304 ; id. Cat. Afr. B. p. 45 (1871) ; Reiehen. J. f. O. 1875, p. 21 ; Sharpe & Bouvier, Bull. Soc. Zool. France, i. p. 38 (1876) ; Boeage, Orn. Angola, p. 188 (1877) ; Oust. Nouv. Arch. Mus. (2) ii. p. 96 (1879) ; De Rochebr. Faune Seneg., Ois. p. 217 (1884) ; Buttikofer. Notes Leyd. Mus. vii. p. 157 (1885).
Ptyoprogne nigrita, Oust. Ball. Soc. Philom. (7) i. p. 106 (1877).
Atticora fasciata, Forbes, Ibis, 1883, p. 503.
H. ubique indigotico-nigra ; plaga gulari alba ; reetrieibus omnibus, mediis exceptis, macula magna alba ornatis.
Hab. in Africa occidentali.
Adult. Above glossy purplish blue, with a concealed patch of silky white on the sides of the lower back ; chin dusky ; throat white ; rest of under surface of body purplish blue, but a little duller than the back ; tail-feathers distinctly washed with dark blue above, brownish black below, with the greater part of the inner web white : “ bill and feet black ; iris dark brown ” Reichenow Total length 4.5 inches, culmen 0.35, wing 4.3 tail 1.6, tarsus 0.35.
Young. Dusky purplish blue, the white throat-spot not quite so large ; tail square or only slightly forked, and the white spots on the inner web small and oval.
Mr. Buttikofer states that the white throat-spot is present even in very young specimens though mixed with a few fulvous leathers ; they are also said by the same observer to be greyish brown above. “ In two not fully adult specimens, both males, the chest, sides of body, and under tail-coverts arc already steel-blue, the abdomen chocolate-brown."
Hab. West Africa, along the rivers from Liberia to the Congo.
On the coast-region of West Africa the most westerly range of the White-gorgeted Swallow appears to be Liberia, where it was met with by Mr. Buttikofer who writes; —
“ These line Swallows are found along the larger rivers. I visited in Liberia. They can always be seen seated upon twigs and trunks of trees rising to some height above the water, whence they hunt after flies and other insects, returning after a short flight to the same spot, where in small cavities their nests can be found.”
Specimens are in the British Museum from the Ancobra River, obtained by Capts. Burton and Cameron, from the river Prah, presented by Mr. Godfrey Lagden, and from the neighbourhood of Axim, where they were procured by Mr. Swanzy’s collectors. Its distribution on the upper Gold Coast seems to be, therefore, considerable. Dr. de Roche-brune states that it is decidedly rare in the Senegambian region, as it was only found by him at Kita, Bakel, on the banks of the Faleme, Bakoy, and Baling rivers, at Fonta-kouro and in the interior of Gangaran, localities said by him to be not far from the river Niger. On the last-named river it was discovered originally by Capt. Allen during the ill-fated Niger Expedition ; the late Mr. W. A. Forbes also saw it about 200 miles up the Niger, and he alludes to the Swallow he met with as “ Atticora fasciata (?),” meaning, no doubt, that it was a Swallow like A. fasciata, which he had not long before seen in Brazil. No specimens were procured by him, but he can have referred only to the present bird. Dr. Reichenow obtained it on the Cameroon and Wuri rivers. Specimens from Gaboon are in the British Museum, and M. DuChaillu procured the species on the Ogowe River ; M. Marche likewise met with it on the Upper Ogowe at Lake Sile, in December 1875, and at Lope in February of the following year. It extends as far south as the Congo, where M. Petit obtained specimens.
The following account of the species in the Cameroons has been published by Dr. Reichenow :—“ This Swallow seems to be confined to the rivers, over the waters of which it chases its prey, resting on floating trunks or projecting stumps of trees, on the latter of which it builds its nest. Wherever we found old tree-stumps standing in the river, there we invariably saw this Swallow, and wherever there were none, the Swallow was also absent. The nests exactly resembled in form those of our Chimney-Swallow, and were fixed to the trees a few feet above the water, in such a manner that they are protected above by a knot or the stump of a branch. The interior was lined with some stems of grass, and two or three eggs constituted the sitting ; the latter agreed with those of our Chimney-Swallow in the colouring, being spotted with brown and violet on a white ground, and were 0.65 inch long by 0.5 inch broad.
At one time we considered that this Swallow differed generically from the other members of the genus Hirundo ; but the form of the tail and style of coloration are so Variable in the latter genus, that every gradation seems to occur between typical H. rustica and the aberrant species, such as H. nigrita H. smithii, and others ; so that we now prefer to keep all the fork-tailed Swallows under one generic heading.
The descriptions are copied from the ‘Catalogue of Birds,’ and are taken from specimens in the British Museum. The figure in the Plate is drawn from an example in the collection of Capt. Wardlaw Ramsay.
HIRUNDO NIGRITA, Gray.