Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Red-throated Rock Martin (Ptyonoprogne rufigula)


French: Hirondelle de Fischer German: Rostkehlschwalbe Spanish: Avión rojizo

Cotyle rufigula

G. A. Fischer and Reichenow

, 1884,

Lake Naivasha


Hitherto treated as conspecific with P. fuligula and often P. obsoleta, but differs from former in its much smaller size (effect size for wing −7.1, score 3); higher-pitched voice (2)#R; darker upperparts (1); and pinkish-buff of throat rather abruptly switching to dusky grey on breast to belly vs extending onto breast and shading to dark pinkish-grey on belly (2). Differs from latter in its smaller size (effect size for wing vs P. o. pallida −1.25, score 1); stronger, darker pink-tinged throat (1); breast and belly dusky grey vs whitish-pink shading gently to mid-grey on lower belly (3); sooty-grey vs mid-grey to pale grey upperparts (2). Included P. o. pallida when grouped in HBW, but see P. obsoleta. Proposed race birwae (Sierra Leone, Guinea) included in nominate. When considered congeneric with Petrochelidon rufigula (e.g. when both were treated in Hirundo), name rufigula of present species becomes preoccupied, and is replaced with fusciventris; latter name erroneously retained in HBW. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. bansoensis (Bannerman, 1923) – SE Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone E to Nigeria and Cameroon.
  • P. r. rufigula (G. A. Fischer & Reichenow, 1884) – C & S Chad, Central African Republic, W Sudan, S & E South Sudan, SW Ethiopia, and E Africa S to Zimbabwe and N & C Mozambique.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 10–17·8 g. Adult has head down to ear-coverts dark brown and upperparts same colour but washed grey, tail also dark brown and square-ended or slightly forked, with... read more


    Rarely very vocal, but gives soft mellow twittering (presumably the song), as well as a low “wick”... read more


    Mountains, crags, cliffs, gorges, coasts, also human habitations, including towns and cities;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet unknown beyond flying insects. Keeps mainly close to cliff and ground; in one study fed within 10 m of ground and 40 m from nest, in... read more


    Season mainly Apr–Jun/Jul and Aug–Dec in W Africa, Jan–Mar and May–Dec in Ethiopia; in all months in E Africa, peaks varying geographically... read more


    Resident, with local changes in numbers. Forms usually small post-breeding flocks; roosts, on... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Widespread and generally common; sometimes local because of specialized nest-sites, but parts of W African forest zone have been... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-throated Rock Martin (Ptyonoprogne rufigula). 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 26 February 2020).