Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans)


French: Hirondelle des arbres German: Baumschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina arborícola

Hirundo nigricans


, 1817,

Hobart, Tasmania


Affinities not clear; differs from typical members of genus in e.g. nest structure and material. Until recently, W mainland population was placed in nominate race, but all in Australia now thought to belong to race neglecta, differentiated from Tasmanian population. One recent list#R, however, included Australian and Timor populations in nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. n. timoriensis Sharpe, 1885 – E Lesser Sundas (Timor, probably also Flores).
  • P. n. neglecta Mathews, 1912 – Australia (except N and dry C areas).
  • P. n. nigricans (Vieillot, 1817) – Tasmania; migrates N as far as New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 14–19 g. Nominate race has rufous forehead band, glossy deep blue crown, nape and back, dull white rump with brownish-black shaft streaks, dusky uppertail-... read more


    Song is a high-pitched twittering; contact call “tsweet”.


    Open woodland near water, also human habitations, including towns and cities. Forages over and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes hymenopterans (including parasitic wasps and ants), hoverflies (Syrphidae) and other dipterans, beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (... read more


    Generally Jul/Aug–Jan, but mainly Aug–Nov in SW, and opportunistically after rain in arid areas; may often be double-brooded.... read more


    Migratory in SE; mostly resident or partial migrant elsewhere. Forms post-breeding flocks and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and common breeder in S Australia (few breeding records N of 20º S); locally common on Timor. Density of 0·5 birds/ha recorded... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans). 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).