Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Asian Plain Martin (Riparia chinensis)


French: Hirondelle à gorge grise German: Graukehl-Uferschwalbe Spanish: Avión paludícola asiático
Other common names: Grey-throated Martin

Hirundo chinensis

J. E. Gray

, 1830,

no locality


Until recently#R considered conspecific with R. cowani and R. paludicola, but differs from latter’s geographically and morphologically closest race minor in its smaller bill (effect size −2.1, score 2); slightly longer tail (effect size 1, score 1); and paler rump (although race tantilla darker) (2); and from all subspecies of R. paludicola for which acoustic recordings exist (although some taxa including minor are unsampled; research and confirmation needed) as well as from R. cowani in its possession of short rattles vs buzzing calls (3)#R. Race tantilla sometimes synonymized, but rump darker. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. c. chinensis J. E. Gray, 1830 – NE Afghanistan, Pakistan and N India E to Myanmar, S China (Yunnan) and Indochina, also Taiwan. Status uncertain in S Tajikistan.
  • R. c. tantilla Riley, 1935 – N Philippines (Luzon).
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm. Very similar to R. diluta indica and differs from formerly conspecific R. paludicola in being smaller with proportionately slightly longer tail... read more


    Song reported to comprise a somewhat harsh and rather unmusical twittering, which is typically... read more


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

    Food and feeding

    Diet (in Pakistan) stated to be dominated by Chironimid midges, Anopheles mosquitoes, various Diptera, craneflies (Tipulidae) and... read more


    Season variable, probably depending on rains, mainly Oct–Feb, rarely to May, in Indian Subcontinent, but Feb–Nov in Nepal; Jun–Aug in... read more


    Sedentary in some areas, but makes local movements in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh; where present... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common and widespread, being the most abundant Riparia sp. in the Indian Subcontinent. Declines reported in C... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Asian Plain Martin (Riparia chinensis). 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).