1152. Hirundo rustica rustica

(1152) Hirundo rustica rustica Linn.
THE COMMON SWALLOW.
Hirundo rustica rustica, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 240.
In the ‘Fauna’ I pointed out that many specimens of this Swallow obtained in Kashmir were by no means typical, yet others could not be distinguished in any way from the European bird. I still find it impossible to give any constant character by which to separate the two, and I retain my distribution of the various races as given in the ‘Fauna’ :—“Breeding in Europe, North-West Africa, West Siberia to the Yenesei, Asia Minor, Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim, Tibet and the Assam Hills.”
In Kashmir and elsewhere in India the Swallow is the same confiding bird that it is in England, and is even bolder in selecting building sites. In Srinagar almost every shop and other building has one or more, generally more, nests in it, built at any height from 6 to 9 feet, so that the occupants passing in and out almost touch them. The people encourage them to build, and place small boards under the nest to catch the droppings and rubbish below them. In other places the natives put up little boards under the eaves and rafters upon which the Swallows make their nests.
In some buildings the birds build in considerable numbers. Thus in the Post Office at Srinagar Osmaston found eight nests in one room which was daily closed “entirely” at 5 P.M. every evening until the next morning, but Osmaston does not say whether the birds were shut in or out.
The nest is so well known that any further description seems superfluous. As in England, so in India, the Swallow builds an open saucer or semi-saucer-shaped nest of tiny pellets of mud well lined with feathers, feathers and grass or, very rarely, soft feathery grasses alone.
The principal breeding season is April and May, but in Almora Whymper took full clutches of eggs as early as the 20th March, many nests having their full complement on that date. On the other hand many birds breed in June, and I have eggs taken as late as the 27th July. They certainly have two broods as a rule in the year, and sometimes three. Gammie says that in Sikkim “they breed at least twice in the season and I think, occasionally, three times. On the 29th April I took a nest containing five hard-set eggs out of a kutcha bungalow, and on visiting the same place on the 20th June found that the same pair had, in the interim, built a rough nest and reared a brood, which had flown about four days before, and the parents were busy repairing the nest for a third batch of eggs.”
The number of eggs laid is four to six, five being the number moat often laid and six only exceptionally.
The eggs are white, dotted and speckled, with reddish-brown or purple-brown, most numerously at the larger end, where the spots sometimes form zones. Sometimes the spots are chestnut-red, and Whymper found one clutch marked with large blotches of deep red-brown. As a series the eggs of Indian birds are, perhaps, more richly marked than those of the European ones.
In Witherby’s ‘Practical Handbook’ the average of fifty European Swallows’ eggs is given as 20.2 x 13.9 mm. The average of one hundred Indian-taken eggs is 19.8 x 13.7 mm. : maxima 22.8 x 14.0 and 22.1 x 14.2 mm. ; minima 17.9 x 12.1 mm.
Both birds share in the work of nest building.
The period of incubation in Kashmir is 14-15 days, but in Europe Witherby gives the period of incubation as 15 days (Owen) and the fledgling period as 21 days.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 3. 1934.
Title in Book: 
1152. Hirundo rustica rustica
Spp Author: 
Linn.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1152
Year: 
1934
Page No: 
111
Common name: 
Common Swallow
M_ID: 
22501
M_SN: 
Hirundo rustica rustica
Volume: 
Vol. 3
Term name: 
id: 
14238

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