PHEDINA MADAGASCARIENSIS, Hartl.
MADAGASCAR STRIPED SWALLOW.
Progne borbonica (nec Gm.), Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Philad. Acad. p. 10 (1853).
Phedina madagascariensis, Hartl. J. f. O. 1860, p. 83 ; id. Beitr. Faun. Madag. p. 27 (1861) ; Vinson, Voy. Madag. p. 201 (1865) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, pp. 295, 388 ; id. Cat. Afr. B. p. 46 (1871) ; id. P. Z. S. 1875, p. 78 ; Hartl. Vog. Madag, p. 65 (1877) ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 123 (1885).
Phedina, sp. indet., Roch & E. Newt. Ibis, 1862, p. 270 ; E. Newt. Ibis, 1863, p. 270.
Hirundo borbonica, Schl. P. Z. S. 1866, p. 421 (pt.) ; id. & Pollen, Hist. Nat. Madag., Ois. p. 68 (1868, pt.).
Phedina borbonica, var. madagascariensis, Milne-Edwards & Grandid. Hist. Nat. Madag, xii. Ois. p. 395, pls. 150, 151, 164 a (1883).
P. similis P. borbonica, sed magis cinerascens, et subtus albieans minimi fumosa.
Hab. in insula, ‘Madagascar’ dieta.
Adult. Above rather pale brownish grey, the shafts of all the feathers being distinctly marked ; wing-coverts and quills blackish brown, the latter paler underneath ; tail dark brown, somewhat lighter on the inner webs ; lores black ; cheeks, side of the neck, and breast greyish brown, with darker shaft-stripes ; rest of the under surface of the body white, with thin longitudinal stripes : the lower part of the abdomen and under tail-coverts pure white, the shafts of the feathers only indicated by a narrow line of brown ; sides of the breast and flanks greyish brown : “ bill black ; feet dark brown ” (Grandidier). Total length 5.5 inches, wing 4.7, tail 2.
The greater length of the under tail-coverts in the Madagascar bird noticed by us (P. Z. S. 1870, p. 389) does not seem to hold good, on examining the series in the Museum. The wing in the Madagascar bird varies from 4.45 to 4.85 inches. The Reunion birds have the wing 4.35,the Mauritius ones 4.7 to 4.75.
The Madagascar birds are easily distinguished by their lighter and greyer colour, white abdomen, and nearly white under tail-coverts, which have only a black shaft-line : in the Mauritius and Bourbon bird the brown colour overshadows the whole of the underparts, and there is none of the grey colour on the upper surface ; the under tail-coverts, as a rule, partake of the dingy colour of the under surface, but they are decidedly whiter in some specimens than in other ; and show only brown mottlings and black shaft-lines, but they are never so white as the Madagasear bird.
BY the majority of writers this species is only considered to he a form or race of P. borbonica of La Reunion and Mauritius, but the constancy of the characters on which it has been separated from that bird convinces us that these two Swallows are really distinct species.
The accounts of the habits of P. madagascariensis vary little from those of its relative in Mauritius, concerning which more details have been published by travellers. M. Grandidier, in his splendid work on the Natural History of Madagascar, gives the following note:—“The Phedina of Madagascar, which is common throughout the whole island, has the same habits as other Swallows. It is as lively and as graceful in its movements as our familiar European species, and, like that bird, it courses unceas¬ingly over the open ground in pursuit of its insect-prey, but it is not so familiar as our H. rustica is with mankind. It is not uncommonly seen perched on the branches of a tree, as well as on rocks. Coquerel says that in La Reunion Phedina borbonica con¬structs its nest in caverns, the nest being of plastered earth attached to the face of the rocks. It is probable that the Madagascar race nests in the caverns which are found in the northern parts of the island, or in the fractures in the great blocks of granite which are so frequent in Madagascar. The eggs are white, dotted with clear brown, more abundantly at the larger end.
“These birds are called by the same name as the Swifts : Manaviandro (lit. ‘Bats of the day’); Fitiliandro or Voronandro (lit. 'Birds of the day’) ; or Sidintsidina (lit. ‘Something which flies without cessation’). The Hovas call it Kiriodamtra, the Bet-sileo and Antaimorona people Firiringa ; the Bara and the Antanala Firio, words whose root seems to be riona or ringito, which mean ‘galloping through the sky or passing rapidly by without stopping.’ ”
Notes on the osteology of Phedina, with excellent figures, are given by Professor Alphonse Milne-Edwards in the work above quoted.
Messrs. Pollen and Yan Lam remark:—“The habits of the Madagascar bird are the same as those of the La Reunion species. Luring our stay at Ambassuana on the 7th of October, 1864, we were witness to the assembly of a large band of these Swallows before their flight, when they formed a formidable crowd. They mounted in the air, crossing hither and thither, before going off in a south-westerly direction, and uttering continuous cries. Among the Sakalava of the north this Swallow is called Manawry. We have met with it also in Nossi-Be, near the lake of Pombylaba.”
The Rev. Deans Cowan informs me that he procured eggs of a Swallow in caverns ; they are now in the possession of Mr. Stoate of Burnham, who has identified them as the eggs of the present species.
The descriptions and figure are taken from specimens in the British Museum.
PHEDINA MADAGASCARIENSIS, Hartl.