TACHYCINETA ALBILINEA (Lawr.).
CENTRAL-AMERICAN GREEN SWALLOW.
Petrochelidon leucoptera (nec Gm.), Lawr. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. vii. p. 317 (3861).
Petrochelidon albilinea, Lawr. Ann. Lyc. N. Y. viii. p. 2 (1863) ; Salvin, Ibis, 1866, p. 192.
Petrochelidon lillorea, Salvin, P.Z.S. 1863, p. 189 ; Scl. & Salv. P.Z.S. 1861, p. 347.
Hirundo albilinea, Baird, Review Amer. B. p. 300 (1865) ; Scl. & Salv. Nomencl. Av. Neotr, p. 14 (1873) ; Zeledon, Cat. Av. de Costa Rica, p. 5 (1882) ; Salv. & Godm. Biol. Centr.-Amer., Aves, i. pl. xv. fig. 1 (1883).
Tachycineta albilinea, Lawr. Mem. Bost. Soc. N. H. ii. p. 271 (1874) ; Salv. & Godm. Biol. Centr.-Amer., Aves, i. p. 235 (1883) ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. pp. 115, 631 (1884).
Hirundo albilineata, Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 71, no. 845 (1869).
Hirundo leucopygia, Tacz. P. Z. S. 1880, p. 192 ; id. Orn. Perou, i. p. 240 (1884) ; id. op. cit. iii. p. 503 (1886).
T. supra viridis: uropygio albo : tectricibus alarum majoribus baud albo marginatis : genis totis albis : liuea supralorali minore nec trails basin frontis ducta.
Hab. in America centrali usque ad Peruviam.
Adult male. General colour above glossy steel-blue, more or less inclining to steel-green, the bases to the feathers of the mantle ashy white ; rump white, with hair-like blackish shaft-lines ; scapulars like the back ; wing-coverts blackish, externally edged with steel-blue ; greater coverts, bastard-wing, primary-coverts, and quills blackish, with a slight gloss of dull blue or steel-green on their outer webs ; upper tail-coverts steel-blue ; tail-feathers black with a steel-blue gloss ; head like the back ; lores and feathers below the eye velvety black, with a narrow supraloral streak of white ; upper half of ear-coverts and sides of neck glossy steel-green ; lower half of ear-coverts, checks, throat, and under surface of body pure white ; the long under tail-coverts with remains of blackish longitudinal streaks near their ends ; the fore neck, breast, and tides of body rather more ashy than the rest of the under surface and having narrow dusky shaft-lines ; on the sides of the upper breast a small patch of steel-green; axillaries and under wing-coverts ashy whitish, with hair-like shaft-lines of dusky brown ; quills below dusky, lighter along the inner webs. Total length 4.8 inches, culmen 0.4, wing 3.9, tail 1.9, tarsus 0.4.
The white margins to the inner secondaries, from which this species derives its name, are either signs of immaturity or winter plumage. In most Swallows these white edgings arc indications of youth ; but all the specimens as yet examined by us which possessed this character have been also in winter plumage, which in this species is not difficult to tell, as the under surface is much whiter than in the summer plumage, there being much less of the ashy-brown shade on the breast and sides, while the dusky shaft-lines are almost entirely obscured.
The winter plumage is also more steel-green than the summer dress, the wearing of the feathers being accompanied by a steel-blue lustre in the place of the green.
This is a smaller species than T. leucorrhous, of which it, is the northern representative. The white band across the rump is much narrower and has the dusky shaft-lines, the feathers adjoining the upper tail-coverts having a green or a dusky spot at their ends. There is none of the brown mottling which appears on the immature bird of T. leucorrhous. The chest has also some dusky shaft-lines, which are, however, often scarcely traceable, and are never so distinct as on the rump.
In the Sclater collection, now in the British Museum, is a specimen of Hirundo leucopygia of Taczanowski, received in exchange from the Warsaw Museum. The specimen in question seems to us to be undoubtedly a young bird. The under surface is washed with smoky brown, the green colour of the upper surface is duller, and the quills and tail are sooty brown, with very broad white margins to the inner secondaries. The upper tail-coverts are smoky brown, with distinct dusky blackish shaft-lines. The white rump-band is very narrow, but plainly marked with blackish shaft-lines.
If we are correct in believing this to he the immature plumage, it seems to prove that the white margins on the inner secondaries arc a sign of immaturity, and it is certain that they become absolutely abraded in breeding birds.
The following are the measurements of the series in the British Museum, for comparison with the specimens of T. leucorrhous :—
Total length. Culmen. Wing. Tail. Tarsus.
Male ad. Vera Cruz, Mexico (A. Boucard). 4.3 0.35 3.7 1.65 0.35
Ad. Progreso, Yucatan (E. Devis). 4.5 0.35 3.85 1.65 0.4
Male ad. Belize, Honduras (O. Salvin). 4.5 0.4 3.75 1.65 0.4
Male ad. Punta Arenas, Costa Riea (O. S.). 4.8 0.4 3.9 1.9 0.4
Ad. Guatemala (O. S.). 4.4 0.35 3.8 1.7 0.4
Female ad. Chiapam, Guatemala (O. S.). 4.5 0.4 3.7 1.5 0.4
Ad. Panama (M'Leaman). 4 0.35 3.65 1.55 0.4
Male ad. Panama (M'Leaman). 4.3 0.4 3.9 1.6 0.35
Ad. Panama (M'Leaman). 4.3 0.35 3.7 1.6 0.4
Male juv. Chepen, Peru (J. Stolzmann). 4 0.3 3.6 1.75 0.35
Allowing for age and condition of specimens, it will be seen that T. albilinea is a much smaller bird than T. leucorrhous, the wing never exceeding 4 inches in length.
Hab. Central America, from Mexico to Panama, reoccurring in Pern.
The first notice of this bird appears to have been the record by Mr. G. N. Lawrence of its occurrence in Panama, where it was procured by Mr. M‘Leannan. Mr. Lawrence first determined the species as Hirundo leucoptera, which is a synonym of Tachycineta albiventris, a strictly South-American species. In 1863 Mr. Lawrence, detecting the error in his previous identification of the Panama bird, deseribed it as a new species under the name of Petrochelidon albilinea, and about the same time Mr. Salvin discovered the species in various parts of Central America and named it P. littorea ; but he acknowledges that Mr. Lawrence’s description was published before his own, and he adopted the name given by the last-named author.
The range of this Swallow throughout Central America is almost continuous. The late Colonel Grayson found it in Mexico, at Mazatlan, and specimens from the State of Vera Cruz, collected by Mr. Boueard, are in the British Museum. In British Honduras it was procured by Messrs. Salvin and Godman on the Belize Hiver and the Cays of the coast. Although not yet recorded from Yucatan, Mr. G. F. Gaumer has recently sent a specimen from Jolbox Island, off the coast of that province.
In Guatemala the species was met with by Messrs. Salvin and Godman at several places, Peten, Yaxha, Rio Dulee, Huamuchal, Chiapam, and San Jose de Guatemala. At San Salvador in La Union, and again at Amapala in Honduras, it has been noticed by Mr. Salvin, while it is also recorded from Nicaragua. Mr. Zeledon includes the species in his list of Costa-Rica birds, and Messrs. Salvin and Godman procured a specimen at Punta Arenas, which is now in the British Museum. Mr. M'Leannan sent the original specimens from Panama, and Mr. Salvin found it breeding on the Chagres River in that State.
As before mentioned, we cannot separate the Peruvian bird specifically from T. albilinea, and it probably occurs in Ecuador also.
Messrs. Salvin and Godman believe the species to be resident in every country throughout Central America ; and it appears to frequent inland waters as well as the sea-coast, breeding in old Woodpeckers’ holes in the snags of rivers in British Honduras. At Matachio, on the Chagres River, a nest with young birds was found by Mr. Salvin in May 1873, in an old post, a hollow palm which had once served to support the roof of a hut.
The late Colonel Grayson has given the following account of the species in Western Mexico:—
“This handsome little Swallow is common at Mazatlan, where it is a constant, resident, one among the few Swallows that is not migratory. At all seasons of the year its twitter may he heard about the caves of the houses, or the spacious corridors of the peculiarly constructed Moorish Mexican haciendas. We often see it skimming along the streets, at times almost touching the pavement in its pursuit of flies. Its customary haunts arc near or about large towns or haciendas, and rarely have I seen it far from some human habitation. In April it commences to form the nest, usually beneath the eaves of houses or in holes in the wall, often in the hollow tubes for conveying the water from the Hat roofs of the buildings. They are very sociable in their habits, and may often he seen in considerable numbers perched upon the roofs of the houses.”
To this note Messrs. Salvin and Godman append the following remarks :—
“This account of the habits of T. albilinea hardly agrees with our experience. We only found them along river-courses or frequenting lagoons or lakes, a favourite perch being the dead bough of a snag projecting out of a river. Such places would often be far from any village ; and though these birds were sometimes observed by us near habitations, they did not seem to be the attraction, but some river flowing hard by.”
Our descriptions are copied from the British-Museum ‘Catalogue,’ and the figure in the Plate represents an adult bird in the collection of Messrs. Salvin and Godman.
TACHYCINETA ALBILINEA (Lawr.).