Biblis fuligula

L'Hirondelle fauve, Levaill. Ois. d’Afr. v. p. 156, pl. 246 ; Sundev. Krit. Framst., Levaill, p. 52 (1857).
Hirundo fuligula, Licht. in Forst. Descr. Anim. p. 55 (1841) ; Grill, Zool. Anteekn. p. 36 (1858).
Hirundo hyemalis, Forster, Descr. Anim. p. 55 (1844).
Cotyle fuligula, Gray, Gen. B. i. p. 60 (1845) ; id. Cat. Fissir. Brit. Mus. p. 29 (1818) ; Bp. Consp, i. p. 342 (1850) ; Cab. Mus. Hein. Th. i. p. 164 (1850) ; Hartl. J. f. O. 1861, p. 103 ; Gurney, Ibis, 1865, p. 264 ; Layard, B. S. Afr. p. 57 (1867) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 299 (pt.) ; id. Cat. Afr. B. p. 45 (1871) ; Shelley, Ibis, 1875, p. 68 ; Ayres, Ibis, 1876, p. 424, 1878, p. 407, 1879, p. 291 ; Salvin, Cat. Strickl. Coll. p. 153 (1882) ; Butler, Feilden, & Reid, Zool. 1882, p. 250 ; Sharpe, ed. Layard’s B. S. Afr. p. 360 (1883).
Cotile fuligula, Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 73, no. 874 (1869) ; Sharpe, ed. Layard’s B. S. Afr. p. 840 (1884) ; id Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 106 (1885).
C. major ; Tectricibus albo maculatis ; subeaudalibus saturate brunneis ; gula et praepeetore clare rufescentibus.
Hab. in Africa meridionali.
Adult male. General colour above dark sooty brown, the head slightly more dusky than the back ; wing-coverts and quills darker brown than the back, the inner greater coverts and scapulars of the same sooty brown as the back ; tail-feathers dark brown, all but the two centre feathers and the outermost with a large round white spot on the inner web ; lores blackish ; car-coverts and sides of neck dark sooty brown like the back ; throat and breast tawny rufous, extending over the abdomen ; sides of breast, flanks, abdomen, and under tail-coverts dark sooty brown ; axillaries and under wing-coverts rufous, with sooty-brown bases, causing a mottled appearance near the edge of the wing ; quills sooty brown below, paler along the inner web : “bill black ; legs brown; iris brown” (T. L. Ayres). Total length 5 inches, culmen 0.4, wing 5.05, tail 2.1, tarsus 0.45.
Adult female. Similar to the male in colour. Total length 5.4 inches, culmen 0.4, wing 5, tail 2.15. tarsus 0.45.
Young. Only differs from the adult in having rufous edgings to the feathers of the upper parts, lower abdomen, and under tail-coverts.
Hab. South Africa, from the Cape Colony to Natal and the Transvaal.
THERE are four races of these dark rufous-throated Rock-Martins, of which C. fuligula is the largest, C. anderssoni a pale form from S.W. Africa, O. rufigula is a lesser East-African form, and C. concolor a still smaller Indian representative.
Cotile fuligula, from its habits as given by Mr. Layard, and from what we know of its Indian cousin C. concolor, belongs to the group of Rock-Martins of which C. rupestris is the typical form, as distinguished from the Sand-Martins, of which C. riparia is the type ; and should characters for the separation of the genus Plyonoprogne be found, the present species would come under that heading, and be known as P. fuligula.
The first notice of this species appears to be in Levaillant’s ‘Oiseaux d’Afrique,’ where it is figured, but no scientific names appear to have been bestowed upon it till 1844, when Lichtenstein gave it that of fuligula, which is in all probability a misprint for fulvigula. Forster’s title of hiemalis was first published in the same year by Lichtenstein, in his edition of the ‘Descriptiones Animalium.’
Mr. E. L. Layard, writing from Cape Town, says :—“This Swallow remains with us all the year round, merely shifting its quarters from a town to a country residence. As soon as our summer visitants are gone, these crowd into the villages and take their places. We have counted upwards of one hundred sitting together on the cornices of the Dutch Church in Cape Town on a cold day, basking in the sun. They breed in the mountains and seem generally distributed, as we have received specimens from Damara Land, Swellendam, Beaufort, and Colesberg ; and Victorin procured it at the Knysna. We have also found them nesting under the eaves of houses in November. They lay three or four eggs, of a creamy white, much spotted with brown, with here and there a grey patch ; in some these spots seem to form a circle at the obtuse end : axis 10"', diameter 6"'. The flight of this species is very slow and sailing, and they seek their prey usually near rocks, and are more crepuscular in their habits than any of our other species, often flying so far into the darkening twilight, that they can scarcely be dis¬tinguished from the Bats with which they mingle. Mr. H. Jackson writes from Nel’s Poort, on the 4th of January, 1869 :—‘We have taken the eggs of a pair of Brown Martins five times this season. They have their nests against the gable of my house and do not forsake it when robbed, as do the Chats and others.’”
According to the late Dr. Bradshaw, it remains throughout the year on the Orange River, where it is most numerous near rocky hills, nesting under overhanging rocks. He found a few pairs also breeding near Renhardt, Majors Butler and Feilden and Capt, Reid, in their paper on the birds of Natal, state that it is a familiar species in the upper part of the colony, breeding in October and November. We saw beautiful speci¬mens collected by Major Butler in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, and we have received a specimen from our excellent correspondent Mr. T. L. Ayres, from Pinetown in Natal, where it would appear to be decidedly rare.
Although it readies the Transvaal, and has been shot near Potchcfstroom in January by Mr. T. Ayres, the latter naturalist considers it to be one of the scarcest of the Swallows in those parts, although it is more common in the Rustenberg district of the eastern Transvaal.
The species has been recorded from Damara Land ; but after a closer examination of the specimen in the British Museum from that country we have come to the conclusion that the Rock-Martin of South-western Africa is different from the true C. fuligula of the Cape Colony, and we have described it as distinet.
The description is taken from specimens in Captain Shelley’s collection, obtained by Major Butler near Newcastle, and from one of these the figure in the Plate has been drawn.
Cotile fuligula (nec Licht.), Boeage, Jorn. Lisb. 1868, p. 40, 1872, p. 67 ; Gurney in Anderssoni Birds of Damara Land, p. 52 (1872) ; Bocage, Orn. Angola, p. 187 (1881).
Cotite fuligula (pt.), Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. p. 106 (1885).
C. similis C. fuligula sed pallidior: supra pallide murina, et subtus vix rufescens.
Hab. in Africa occidentali-australi.
Adult female. Similar to C. fuligula, but very much paler, the upper surface and the sides of the body being a pale ashy mouse-colour, and the rufous colour on the throat very pale : “bill brown, upper mandible darker than the lower ; legs and toes brown ; iris very dark brown ” (C. J. Andersson). Total length 5.8 inches, culmen 0.4, wing 5.05, tail 2.15, tarsus 0.45.
Hab. Damara-Land and Mossamedes.
THE receipt of a larger series of the true C. fuligula than was at our disposal some time ago shows that the form from the Cape Colony and Natal is uniformly darker than the one from Damara Laud, and the intensely pale coloration of the latter has induced us to describe it as a distinct race, to which we have attached the name of Mr. C. J. Andersson, the intrepid traveller, to whose exertions nearly all our scientific knowledge of this part of the world is due.
Mr. Andersson gives the following note on this bird :—“ This Martin is common in Damara and Great Namaqua Land, and is the only species of Swallow which remains throughout the year, a few couples being always to be found in suitable localities. I once saw a very large number at Hykomkap, on the 20th of May. This species breeds in the holes of low rocks and clay-banks. The nest is cup-shaped, and built of the usual clay materials ; the eggs are five or six in number, white, tinged with fawn, and spotted with brown.”
Senhor Anchieta has met with this Martin at the Bio Coroca and at Biballa in the interior of Mossamedes, as we have no doubt that it is the pale Damara form which occurs here also. At Biballa he says it is called ‘Kapiapia.’
The description and measurements are taken from the typical specimen in the British Museum.

A Monograph Of The Hirundinidae Or Family Of Swallows.
Sharpe, Richard Bowdler, and Claude Wilmott Wyatt. A Monograph of the Hirundinidae: Or Family of Swallows. Vol. 1. 1894.
Title in Book: 
Biblis fuligula
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Richard Bowdler
Page No: 
Common name: 
Rufous Throated Rock Martin
Rock Martin
Ptyonoprogne fuligula
Vol. 1

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