HIRUNDO TYTLERI (Jerd.).
Hirundo rustica, var. rufa (nec Gm.), Middend. Sibir. Reis. p. 188 (1851).
Hirundo rufa (nec Gm.), Kittl. Denkw, ii. p. 196 (1858).
Hirundo rustica (nee L.), Radde, Reis. Sibir. p. 278 (1863).
Hirundo tytleri, Jerd. B. Ind. iii. App. p. 870 (1864) ; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 336 ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 68, no. 790 (1869) ; Hume, Str. F. iii. p. 41 (1875) ; Wald, in Blyth’s B. Burm. p. 127 (1875) ; Wardlaw Ramsay, Ibis, 1877, p. 466 ; Hume & Davison, Str. P. 1878, p. 41 ; Hume, Str. P. 1879, p. 84 ; Simson, Ibis, 1882, p. 84 ; Godwin-Aust. t. e. p. 345 ; Oates, B. Brit. Burm. i. p. 304 (1883) ; Seebohm, Hist. Brit. B. iii. p. 171 (1883) ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Brit. Mus. x. p. 140 (1885) ; Hume, Str. F. xi. p. 26 (1888) ; Oates, Faun. Brit. Ind., Birds, ii. p. 278 (1890).
Hirundo gutturalis (nec Scop.), Tacz. Bull. Soc. Zool. France, p. 385 (1882) ; Dybowski, op. eit. p. 351 (1883).
Chelidon erythrogaster (nec Bodd.), Stejn. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. vi. p. 72 (1883). Hirundo americana, Blakist. Ibis, 1876, p. 331 ; id. & Pryer, Tr. As. Soc. Japan, viii. p. 211 (1880).
Hirundo erythrogastra (nec Bodd.), Blakist. & Pryer, Tr. As. Soc. Japan, x. p. 139 (1882) ; Blakist. Amended List B. Japan, p. 17 (1884).
Hirundo saturata, Ridgway, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 1883, p. 95 (ex Stejneger, MSS.). Hirundo rustica saturata, Dybowsk. & Tacz. Bull. Soc. Zool. France, is. pp. 146, 152 (1884.).
Hirundo baicalensis, Dybowsk. & Tacz. t. c. p. 151 (1884).
Hirundo rustica baicalensis, Dybowsk. & Tacz. t. c. p. 152 (1884).
Chelidon tytleri, Stejneger, Bull. U. S. Nat. Mus. no. 29, pp. 269, 330, 346, 351, 352 (1885) ; id. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. p. 143 (1887).
Hirundo savignii (nee Aud.), Styan, P. Z. S. 1886, p. 268.
Hirundo rustica tytleri, Tacz. Mem. Acad. Imp. Sci. St. Petersb. (7) xxxix. p. 180 (1891).
H. similis H. gutturali et torque pectorali interrupta, sed gastraeo vinaeco-eastaneo distinguenda.
Hab. in Kamtschatica et in Siberia orientali, in terra Assamica, et in regione Indo-Chinensi hibernans. In America meridionali quoque, ut videtur, rarias hibernans.
Adult mate. General colour above glossy purplish blue, the mantle and scapulars streaked with reddish white where the bases of the feathers show through ; lesser and median wing-coverts like the back ; greater coverts and secondaries blackish, edged with the same purplish blue as the back ; innermost greater coverts ashy on their inner web, tinged with rufous ; bastard-wing, primary-coverts, and quills blackish, externally glossed with steel-green ; tail-feathers blackish, glossed with steel-green, all but the centre feathers with a spot of pale rufous on the inner web, becoming larger towards the outermost, where it is in the form of a large oblique mark ; frontal band deep chestnut ; lores black ; ear-coverts and sides of neck glossy purplish blue ; cheeks and throat deep chestnut, with a half-collar of glossy purplish blue coming down on the sides of the fore neck, but not forming a band across ; remainder of under surface of body bright chestnut, not so deep as the throat ; the under tail-coverts equally bright chestnut like the breast, and having slightly indicated spots of purplish blue at the ends of the feathers ; axillaries and under wing- coverts exactly like the breast, the coverts near the edge of the wing slightly mottled with ashy bases to the feathers ; quills dusky below. Total length 7.8 inches, culmen 0.4, wing 5.9, tail 5.7, tarsus 0.4.
Hab. North-eastern Asia from Irkutsk to Kamtschatica, visiting Pekin and probably breeding there. Wintering in the low lands of Dacca, the Burmese provinces, and Tenasserim, and even extending to South America.
TYTLER'S Chimney-Swallow bears the same relation to Hirundo gutturalis that H. savignii does to H rustica. It is an intensely rufous bird without a perfect collar. We know that the species nests in Kamtschatka, and it has been said to breed in the hills of Assam and Manipur ; but this statement is, in our opinion, erroneous.
We identify with H. tytleri specimens in the British Museum from the following localities :—Kamtschatka, Irkutsk, Sadhyia, Khasia Hills, Cachar, Dacca, Pegu, and Tavoy, as well as three American specimens from Brazil, Para, and Duenas in Guatemala.
That all the specimens from the Indo-Burmese countries are typical H. tytleri, we would not, however, assert, for some of them incline to the possession of a throat-band, and both from Dacca and Tavoy we have seen specimens which we regard as intermediate between H. rustica and H. tytleri, while an individual from the Gurgaon district near Delhi appears to fall within the same category.
The northern range of Tytler’s Swallow has been well discussed by Dr. Stejneger in his celebrated work on the ornithology of Kamtschatka and the Commander Islands, and he agrees that the rufous-breasted Swallow of these localities cannot be specifically distinguished from typical H. tytleri. In Kamtschatka, according to Dr. Stejneger, the “Brown-bellied Swallow,” as he calls it, breeds abundantly in and about Petropaulowski, where he met with it during the months of June and July 1882. He adds :—“ When, in 1883, I left the town on one of the latter days of May they had not yet arrived from the south, and at my arrival there in the middle of September the last one had already disappeared, so that their whole sojourn lasts less than three months. Mr. Joseph Lugebil informed me that the Swallows arrived on June 3, and disappeared on August 19. During the migration in spring a few stragglers sometimes pay a flying visit to Bering Island.” Thus two were reported to Dr. Stejneger from the North Rookery on June 19, 1893, and another was observed at Ladiginsk three days later. A single egg left in the nest was procured in the fall ; it was white, heavily spotted with lilac and sepia-brown, resembling those of H. erythrogastra and H. rustica. Dr. Dybowski procured three nests with eggs near Petropaulowski, and Dr. Taczanowski describes the latter as similar to those of the European species with the same variations.
The present species has been considered as, at best, a variety of H. rustica and H. gutturalis by the Siberian explorers Middendorff, Schrenck, and Radde, and it is therefore difficult to determine the ranges of each species in their works. Dr. Stejneger has made some clever deductions, and shows that it is Tytler’s Swallow which was found by Middendorff at Udskij Ostrog at the mouth of the Uda Valley, whence its migration to and from Lake Baikal and Dauria extends along the southern line of the Stanovoj Mountains.
The other references to the Siberian Swallows are very confusing, and we fancy that Taczanowski's ideas as to the two rufous-breasted Swallows, H. tytleri and H. erythro¬gastra, are somewhat uncertain, and would have been revised if he had lived to publish his own book. He refers Middendorff's bird from Udskij Ostrog to H. erythrogastra, which he allows on the same authority to nest on the Yenesei. There seems to be a thorough muddle regarding these Siberian specimens, and the matter will never be cleared up till some competent naturalist re-examines the original specimens in the St. Petersburg Museum. This will doubtless soon be done by Dr. Pleske, but until then our surmises are likely to be incorrect.
Suffice it to say that an example from Irkutsk in the British Museum is identical in every respect with the birds from Kamtschatka, and doubtless the bird breeds in the former locality.
In China the present species has only been seen near Pekin, where Abbe David records having noticed specimens with peculiarly dark underparts, as well as in Upper Mongolia. The only authentic record, however, of the capture of a specimen of H. tytleri has been furnished by Mr. Styan, who describes two specimens killed near Pekin ; and as a friend of his noticed several dark-coloured specimens, it is possible that Tytler’s Swallow is not uncommon in the vicinity.
Tytler’s Swallow was first described by Dr. Jerdon from Dacca, where it was first brought under his notice by that excellent naturalist Mr. F. B. Simson, who thus describes the discovery of the species :—
“In April 1863 I observed, for the first time, that a great number of Swallows living about the low marshy land to the east of Dacca and near the river Lukya, which lies southward from Mymensing to Naraingunge, where it mingles with the numerous streams from Sylhet and the eastern outlets of the Ganges, had red bellies. No such bird was described in the first volume of Jerdon’s ‘ Birds of India,’ at that time the only work on Indian Birds published. I wrote to Jerdon about it. and he told me that the bird had been observed before by Tytler, and that he would enter it in an appendix, which he accordingly did under the name of Hirundo tytleri. Jerdon says they were abundant at Dacca in June, but were absent in October ; I have, however, seen them near Dacca towards the end of October. I saw them in their greatest numbers in November 1867. These birds were closely looked for by me for eight years in various parts of Eastern Bengal. I never found that they bred there ; and it was very seldom that I observed them far from Dacca, and there only in very scanty numbers. I observed them at Mymensing, the next district to Dacca, once, but only for one day. They visited Dacca regularly, certainly twice every year, from the end of April to June, and again after the rains. They seemed only to stay a few weeks, and then to disappear. For months I had been looking out for them in vain ; of a sudden they would appear in considerable numbers, and then disappear as suddenly.”
Dr. Jerdon writes:—“ I found this apparently new Swallow in abundance at Dacca in June. It had evidently finished breeding, for there were many young birds. It had entirely left the place in October.” Mr. Hume, writing in 1875, says:—“ It is a mystery where H. tytteri, which is only seen at Dacca for a month or two at a time and that often after an interval of some years, comes from. Mr. F. B. Simson, the late commissioner of Dacca, who first pointed out the species to Dr. Jerdon, watched vainly for them for three successive years ; then they came in great numbers, and he sent me a very large series. A couple of months later they had entirely disappeared ; this was in the early part of the rains. It was in June also that he first drew Dr. Jerdon’s attention to them.”
Colonel Godwin-Austen procured a Swallow in Manipur, which he found nesting near Imphal, the capital, in February and March ; it was then commencing to breed. He has specimens in his collection from the Manipur Hills and the Lhoto Naga Hills, Assam, and he remarks :—“ It would appear that this species breeds in the neighbouring hilly districts, migrating soon after into the plain country.” He has kindly lent us these specimens for examination, and we find that they are only H. rustica, though rather highly-coloured individuals of that form.
Mr. Hume believes that he observed the species in Manipur, but did not procure a specimen. He writes:—“ This is the more remarkable as Godwin-Austen says that during his visit it was the only form seen in Manipur during February and March.”
Mr. Oates writes:—“ Tytler’s Swallow visits British Burmah in considerable numbers every winter, but is much more common in some years than in others.” Major Wardlaw Ramsay records it as common in the plains of Karennce, but no specimens from this locality are in the Tweeddale collection.
Mr. Davison says :—“ I only met with this race at Tavoy ; they appeared for a few days in the latter end of April and the early part of May in great numbers, and then disappeared entirely ; but whether moving north or south I am unable to say.”
Occasionally Tytler’s Swallow appears to visit the American continent and to accompany H. erythrogastra in its migrations south. Three specimens, from Duenas in Guatemala, from Para, and from Brazil, are referable to this form.
The description of the bird is taken from an Irkutsk specimen in the British Museum, and the figure has been drawn from a specimen from Petropaulowski in the same Institution.
For the geographical distribution of this species, vide infra Plate 44 [Map].
HIRUNDO TYTLERI (Jerd.).