Cotile minor

Cotyle minor, Cab. Mus. Hein. Th. i. p. 49 (1850) ; Heugl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 166 (1869) ; Blanf. Geol. & Zool. Abyss, p. 350 (1870) ; Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 303 ; Shelley, B. Egypt, p. 12-1 (1872).
Cotyle littoralis, Hempr. & Ehr. MSS. ; Licht. Nomencl, p. 61 (1854).
Cotilc minor, Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 74, no. 878 (1869) ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 103 (1885).
? Cotyle palustris (pt.), Heugl. Orn. N.O.-Afr. i. p. 167 (1869).
C. similis C. paludicola, sed minor.
Hab. in Africa septentrionali-orientali.
Adult. Similar to C. paludicola, but smaller, and having a shade of silvery grey down the centre ; remainder of abdomen and under tail-coverts white. Total length 4.5 inches, culmen 0.25, wing 3.9, tail 1.7, tarsus 0.3.
Young (one of the types of C. littoralis, H. & E.). Very pale brown, washed with sandy rufous, the feathers broadly edged with this colour, the rump and upper tail-coverts nearly uniform rufous ; wing-coverts and quills darker brown, edged with sandy rufous ; ear-coverts and sides of face pale brown, the lores and feathers of the head washed with rufous ; throat and chest white, washed with pale rufous ; sides of breast brown ; centre of breast, abdomen, and under tail-coverts white : flanks brown washed with sandy rufous. (Mus. G. E. Shelley.)
A specimen collected by Sir W. C. Harris at Angollala in Shoa has the wing 3.85 inches.
Hab. North-eastern Africa from Central Egypt to Abyssinia, Somali-land and Equatorial Africa, pro¬bably migrating southwards, but the northern and southern limits of the species have yet to he defined.
This small Sand-Martin is so closely allied to the South-African C. paludicola that it is scarcely deserving of separation, and it is not surprising that it has been considered to be identical with that species by many naturalists. In fact little is known about it ; and notwithstanding the universal testimony of naturalists to the wonderful prolusion of the species in North-eastern Africa, in collections it is one of the rarest of the Swallows. Thus it is quite possible that an absolute connection with C. paludicola will one day be established.
At present we have only seen two specimens of C. minor, and the only difference between them and C. paludicola consists in the silvery grey shade on the throat and fore neck which is perceptible in the first-named bird. The extent of the brown colour over the fore neck and breast seems to vary so much in 0. paludicola that the distinctions we drew in the { Catalogue of Birds’ between the two forms, resting on this character, appear to us now to be undeserving of much credit. The grey on the throat may also prove to be due to seasonal changes, and in that case there will be nothing but the smaller size by which C. minor can be recognized.
The late Baron von Heuglin gave the following account of this species in his ‘Orni¬thologie Nordost Afrika’s ’: —
“This little Bank-Swallow is common from central Egypt along the whole of the Nile, as well as in Abyssinia. It breeds in Egypt and Nubia in small and large flocks, between the months of February and May, and also at the time when the water is lowest. The nest-holes resemble those of C. riparia, but are generally not so deep, and, according to Brehm, are often very near together, and always in the perpendicular alluvium walls of the banks.
“As early as June or July the old and young birds assemble in large flocks, flying backwards and forwards along the water, and often settling on the shore or on sand¬banks. In September these little birds migrate southwards, swarming more especially in the evening, and passing in a dense cloud across the Blue and White Niles at Khar¬toum, falling in countless multitudes on the fields of Sorgho, where they often pass the night in company with Sand-Martins, Chimney-Swallows, and Wagtails. Some of the Europeans keep a sharp look-out for them at this time, and each year hundreds of these harmless little birds are taken with the hand, to be utilized for kitchen requirements. I have also observed the species in September and October on the Danakil and Somali coasts.
“As late as December 1862, we found a nest of the present species in a burrow, about one or two feet in depth, in the high bank of the Asam at Adowa. It consisted of dry grasses, and contained three eggs, nearly ready to hatch.”
Mr. W. T. Blanford states that he saw this Sand-Martin in countless swarms on Lake Ashangi in April. They kept much in flocks, roosting among the reeds at night. Sir W. C. Harris met with the species at Angollala in Shoa.
The description is taken from Mr. Blanford’s specimen in the British Museum, and the figure is also drawn from the same bird.

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: 
Cotile minor
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Richard Bowdler
Page No: 
Common name: 
Soudan Sand Martin
Riparia paludicola minor
Vol. 1

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