Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Collared Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)


French: Hirondelle de rivage German: Uferschwalbe Spanish: Avión zapador
Other common names: Sand Martin, Bank Swallow

Hirundo riparia


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Formerly considered conspecific with R. diluta. Proposed races kolymensis (E Siberia) and taczanowskii (L Baikal area and C Mongolia E to Ussuriland) merged with nominate and ijimae, respectively, but both possibly distinguishable; proposed taxon dolgushini (SE Kazakhstan) is synonym of innominata. North American populations sometimes considered to represent a separate, supposedly smaller race maximiliani, but differences from Eurasian birds negligible. Several new Asian races recently proposed#R, but these appear to represent no more than clinal variation; further research required. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. r. riparia (Linnaeus, 1758) – North America from W & C Alaska and Canada (N Yukon, NW & SC Mackenzie and N Saskatchewan E to S Labrador and SW Newfoundland) S in USA to C California, W Nevada, Utah, N & C New Mexico, NE Oklahoma, N Alabama, C West Virginia, E Virginia, and casually NW N Carolina and SC South Carolina, also SC Texas and NE Mexico (N Nuevo León, N Tamaulipas); Eurasia from Ireland, Britain and N Scandinavia E through Siberia (E to about R Kolyma and Kamchatka), S to N Mediterranean, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, SW Iran and C Asia; has bred locally in NW Africa. Winters in South America and Africa.
  • R. r. innominata Zarudny, 1916 – SE Kazakhstan; may winter in Africa or in SW or S Asia.
  • R. r. ijimae (Lönnberg, 1908) – L Baikal area and C Mongolia E to Sakhalin, N Japan (Hokkaido) and Kuril Is; reported as breeding also in NE India (Assam), but review required. Winters in SE Asia, including N & W Borneo and N & W Philippines.
  • R. r. shelleyi (Sharpe, 1885) – Egypt (Nile Valley); winters S to Sudan and Eritrea.
  • R. r. eilata Shirihai & Colston, 1992 – breeding range not known; recorded on passage in Israel.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 11–19·5 g. Combination of small size, white chin and throat and well-demarcated dark breastband distinctive. Nominate race is earth-brown or grey... read more


    Song is a harsh twittering; calls include a harsh contact call “tschr”, high- and low-... read more


    Mainly lowland, open country, especially near water, breeding along coasts, rivers and streams, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly insects, some spiders. Diet varies within and between years and sites, depending on local availability of insects. In North American... read more


    Mainly late Apr to Aug; two broods in most of range, but one in far N & E, and one appears to be usual in North America. Socially... read more


    Migratory. Forms flocks and roosts of hundreds or thousands after breeding, roosts of up to c. 2... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common to common in most of range. Race eilata virtually unknown; recorded only in Israel, on passage, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Collared Sand Martin (Riparia riparia). 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 21 February 2020).