Cotile riparia (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 344 (1766) ; (Wilson) Am. Orn. v. p. 46, pl. 38, fig. 4 ; (Audub.) B. of Am. i. pl. 385 ; (Naum.) vi. p. 100, Taf. 146, figs. 3, 4 ; (Gould) B. of E. ii. pl. 58 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. ii. pls. 7, 8 ; Hewitson, i. p. 264, pl. lxv. fig. 1 ; Newton, ii. p. 355 ; Dresser, iii. p. 505, pl. 163 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. x. p. 96 ; Ridgw, p. 463 ; Saunders, p. 167 ; Lilford, ii. p. 82, pl. 38.
Hirondelle de rivage, French ; Pedreirinho, Portug. ; Golondrina de ribera, Span. ; Topino, Ital. ; Uferschwalbe, German ; Zand-zwaluw, Dutch ; Digesvale, Dan. ; Strandsvale, Norw. ; Backsvala, Swed. ; Rantapaaskynen, Finn. ; Beregovoistrichok, Russ.
Male ad. (England). Upper parts hair-brown, rather paler on the rump and darker on the crown ; wings and tail dark brown ; a brown band across the upper breast, and flanks washed with pale brown ; rest of the under parts white ; a small tuft of buffy feathers above the hind toe ; bill black ; legs dark brown ; iris brown. Culmen 0.3, wing 3.95, tail 3.15, tarsus 0.45 inch ; tail forked, the outer rectrices 0.35 longer than the middle ones. The young bird has the upper parts browner, must of the feathers margined with fulvous, chin washed with pale rusty buff, and the sides of the throat slightly tinged with the same colour.
Hab. Europe generally, in Scandinavia as far north as the Porsanger and Varanger fiords, wintering in Africa as far south as the Transvaal ; Asia, as far north and east as Kamchatka, wintering in Burma, India, S. China, and the Philippines ; America from the Mackenzie river and Alaska south throughout the United States, wintering in Cuba, Jamaica, Central America, etc., south to Brazil.
In general habits it resembles other Martins, but differs wholly in its nesting places. Its food consists of small insects, which it usually captures on the wing, and will frequently pick one from the surface of water when skimming over it. Its note is a somewhat harsh scheer, which, in the spring it modulates into an apology for a song. It nests in holes bored in river banks, old gravel pits, or in earth banks, or occasionally it will make use of a hole in an old wall. In a chamber at the end of its hole it forms a loosely-made nest of dry grass and feathers, never making a nest of clay. In May or June, 4 to 5 oval elongated pure white eggs are deposited, which in size average about 0.83 by 0.51. Two broods are usually raised in the season.
400. Cotile riparia