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Bird Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans)


Henry Arthur Readford
May 23, 2011
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Scientific Name: Petrochelidon nigricans

Common Name: Tree Martin

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Hirundinidae

Other Names: NA

Distribution: Most of Australia

Habitat: Open woodland, preferably with large trees to provide nest holes. It is increasingly common in urban and suburban areas.

Field Notes: averages 13 cm long and has a shallowly forked tail. The adult has an iridescent blue back and crown, brown wings and tail, a rufous forehead and a whitish rump. The underparts are white. The sexes are similar, but young birds are duller and browner, with a paler forehead and pale fringes to the back and wing feathers.The call of this vocal swallow is a pleasant twitter.
depending on region, from July through to January, either in pairs or semi-colonially depending on nest site availability. Nests are constructed in natural holes in dead trees or rock crevices, but increasingly in artificial sites on bridges and buildings. Tree Martins also occasionally reline the nests of Welcome Swallows, and may displace the owners to obtain the nest.
The nest, unusually for a cliff swallow, is often made just from grass and leaves, but may be reinforced with mud. A mud and plant fibre cement is also used to reduce the width of the entrance to the breeding hole. The clutch is 3-5, usually four, brown and mauve-spotted white eggs, and this species is often double-brooded.
Tree Martins have a fast twisting flight and feed higher than Welcome Swallows, often more than 6 m above the ground. They are frequently seen above tall eucalyptus trees catching aerial insects above the canopy, but will also feed on insect swarms low over water. This species can be highly gregarious when not breeding, and will form mixed flocks with Fairy Martins.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_Martin
Simpson & Day . Field Guide to the Birds of Australia

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