HIRUNDO GRISEOPYGA, Sundev.
Hirundo griseopyga, Sundev. OEfv. K. Vet.-Akad. Forh. Stock. 1850, p. 107 ; Layard, B. S. Afr. p. 55 (1867) ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 71, no. 833 (1869) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 313 ; Boeage, Orn. Angola, p. 546 (1881) ; Shelley, Ibis, 1882, p. 280 ; Sharpe, ed. Layard’s B. S. Afr. pp. 368, 841 (1882-84) ; id. Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 152 (1885).
Atticora melbina, J. Verr. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1851, p. 310 ; Strickl. Contr. Orn. 1851, p. 163 ; Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Philad. Acad. p. 6 (1853) ; Hartl. J. f. O. 1853, p. 398 ; id. Orn. W.-Afr. p. 25 (1857) ; Cass. Proc. Philad. Acad. 1859, p. 33 ; Hartl. J. f. O. 1861, p. 103 ; Forbes, Ibis 1883, p. 514.
Hirundo melbina, Strickl. Contr. Orn. 1851, p. 131 ; Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 70. no. 824 (1869).
Atticora cypseloides, Heugl. J. f. O. 1862, p. 297, 1864, p. 276.
Atticora griseopyga, Heugl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 149, tab. vii. (1869) ; Sharpe, Ibis. 1870, p. 428.
Hirundo cypseloides, Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 70, no. 826 (1869) ; Boueard, Cat. Av. p. 334 (1875).
Psalidoprocne melbina, Bouvier, Cat. Ois. &c. Marche, p. 9 (1875).
Hirundo poucheti, Petit, Bull. Soc. Zool. France, viii. p. xliii (1883).
H. pileo et uropygio brunneis facile distinguenda.
Hab. in Africa occidentali, meridionali-orientali et septentrionali-orientali.
Adult. General colour above glossy blue-black, the mantle varied with white bases to the feathers ; lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts brown, contrasting with the back ; wing-coverts glossy blue-black like the back ; quills black, externally glossy blue-black ; tail-feathers blue-black towards their ends, but more or less washed with brown towards the base ; entire head and nape brown, with a slight bluish gloss ; lores dusky blackish, surmounted by a line of hoary leathers : sides of face and ear-coverts brown ; cheeks and under surface of body satiny white, with a slight fulvous tinge on the throat; the flanks, thighs, and lateral under tail-coverts slightly washed with brown ; under wing-coverts brown, edged with white : quills dusky below, brownish along the inner web : “bill blackish ; feet dusky ashy ; iris dusky" (Von Heuglin). Total length 5.7 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 3.8, tail 1.65 outer feather 3.1, tarsus 0.5.
Young. Differs from the adult in having narrow edgings of pale reddish brown to the feathers of the back and wing-coverts, and in having the throat and fore neck reddish buff.
Hab. Natal and Swazi Land in S.E. Africa up to Mashoona Land ; West Africa, from Benguela to the Niger ; N.E. Africa, the Gazelle river district and Abyssinia.
THIS Swallow bears a great resemblance to the young of the Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii), which also has a brown head ; but the latter has the whole of the lower back and rump blue like the mantle, and the under wing-coverts white, whereas in H. griseopyga the rump is brown and the under wing-coverts brownish, even in the young stage. The young of H. smithii also shows a slight indication of the white spot on the tail-feathers, of which there is no trace in H. griseopyga at any age.
The present species was discovered in Natal by the late Professor Wahlberg ; but we have never seen a specimen from this Colony, though Mr. T. E. Buckley procured one in Swazi Land. During Mr. Jameson’s expedition to Mashoona Land, Mr. T. Ayres says that he observed these Swallows on the Quae-Quae River in October, hunting the trees for their insect food, but they were not plentiful. Senhor Anchieta has met with the species at Caconda in Benguela.
In West Africa it occurs from the Congo to the Niger, having been met with by M. Petit at Mayumba, on the first-named river, in April. He bestowed on it the new name of H. poucheti ; but as he kindly sent a specimen for us to examine, we were able to determine its identity with the present species. The late M. Jules Verreaux described specimens from Gaboon as Atticora melbina, and DuChaillu obtained it at Cape Lopez and on the Camma River.
The late Mr. W. A. Forbes mentions his having obtained a Swallow at Egga, which he believed to be of this species, but no specimens were in his Niger collection. Mr. Frank Nicholson, however, has recently presented a nestling to the British Museum, which had been obtained by a friend of his high up the river Niger, and which we identify as the young of this species. In North-eastern Africa, the late Baron von Heuglin states that he twice met with the species in two very different localities, viz. in Jan. 1862 on meadows and pasture-lands at Gondar, and in the same month in 1864 on the streams which extend from Wau to the lake-region of the Gazelle River, in the steppes. In Abyssinia it was mingled with flocks of Cotile paludicola and Cecropis senegalensis, in Central Africa only with the last-named species. The flight is swift and generally vigorous, and at no great height. Their note he does not remember to have heard.
The specimen described, and figured in the accompanying Plate, is in the British Museum, from Gaboon.
HIRUNDO GRISEOPYGA, Sundev.