Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

African Plain Martin (Riparia paludicola)


French: Hirondelle paludicole German: Braunkehl-Uferschwalbe Spanish: Avión paludícola africano
Other common names: Plain Martin, Brown-throated Martin

Hirundo paludicola


, 1817,

South Africa


Previously considered conspecific with R. cowani and R. chinensis (see both). Name paludibula has priority over minor, but former has not been in use since at least 1894, and latter thus retained by virtually all recent authors. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. p. mauritanica (Meade-Waldo, 1901) – W & NW Morocco, from R Massa N to lower R Loukkos#R.
  • R. p. minor (Cabanis, 1851) – #Rlocally from Senegambia E to Sudan and N Ethiopia.
  • R. p. schoensis Reichenow, 1920 – Ethiopian highlands.
  • R. p. newtoni Bannerman, 1937 – SE Nigeria and adjacent W Cameroon.
  • R. p. ducis Reichenow, 1908 – E DRCongo, Uganda (possibly adjacent S South Sudan#R) and W & C Kenya S to Burundi and N & C Tanzania.
  • R. p. paludicola (Vieillot, 1817) – W & SW Angola, Zambia, S Tanzania and Malawi S to South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 8–17 g; wingspan 26–27 cm. Nominate race is somewhat variable in overall coloration, but typically olive-brown above, with wings and tail dark... read more


    Weak twittering song; calls include a contact call “svee-svee”, a flock call “... read more


    Near rivers, lakes and other waterbodies, especially in breeding season. Also forages over... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes dipteran flies such as chironomids, tipulids, syrphids and muscids, Hymenoptera (ants), homopteran bugs (aphids), beetles (... read more


    Season variable, probably depending on rains, generally in dry season in S Africa, in rains in E Africa; Oct and Dec–Mar in Morocco,... read more


    Sedentary in some areas, e.g. Morocco; partial migrant in others, e.g. E & S Africa. Forms... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in most of range, as in Morocco, where range has recently increased near Rabat, and has bred near the Strait of Gibraltar, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). African Plain Martin (Riparia paludicola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).