Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Northern House Martin (Delichon urbicum)


French: Hirondelle de fenêtre German: Mehlschwalbe Spanish: Avión común occidental
Other common names: Common House Martin

Hirundo urbica


, 1758,



Hitherto treated as conspecific with D. lagopodum (which see). Sometimes considered conspecific with D. dasypus, but breeding ranges overlap (e.g. S of L Baikal). Nominate race exhibits largely clinal decrease in size from N to S, but abrupt size reduction in S Europe; birds in WC Europe sometimes separated as race fenestrarum. Occasionally hybridizes with Hirundo rustica. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. u. urbicum (Linnaeus, 1758) – W, C & N Europe E to W Siberia; winters mainly sub-Saharan Africa.
  • D. u. meridionale (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – S Europe, N Africa and WC Asia (E to W Mongolia, Tien Shan and Kashmir); winters Africa and SW Asia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 10·3–23 g; wingspan 26–29 cm. Male breeding has glossy blue crown and back, white rump, sometimes white feather bases showing on hindcrown... read more


    Song is a soft twittering; calls include a shrill contact call “prt” or longer “... read more


    Open areas, coastal cliffs, cultivation, and human habitations, including towns and cities; in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Almost entirely insects, predominantly small ones. Diet in S England (mainly nestlings) 60% flies (Diptera), 18% aphids (Homoptera), 11%... read more


    Lays from May in NW & C Europe, end May–Jun in N & NE Europe; starts Mar–May in S Spain and N Africa; Jun–Jul in... read more


    Migratory. Forms flocks of several hundreds or thousands after breeding. Main migration periods... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common and widespread, but numbers fluctuate locally. In Europe, population stable overall but some recent declines, e.g. in region... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Northern House Martin (Delichon urbicum). 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 25 February 2020).