The brown-throated martin or brown-throated sand martin (Riparia paludicola) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. It was first formally described as Hirundo paludicola by French ornithologist Louis Vieillot in 1817 in his Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle. It was formerly regarded as conspecific with the grey-throated martin (R. chinensis) under the name "plain martin".

It has a wide range in Africa. It is a partially migratory species, with some populations making seasonal movements. It is usually associated closely with water.

The brown-throated martin is colonial in its nesting habits, with many pairs breeding close together, according to available space. The nests are at the end of tunnels of 30 to 60 cm in length, bored in sandbanks. The actual nest is a litter of straw and feathers in a chamber at the end of the burrow. Two to four white eggs are the normal clutch, and are incubated by both parents.

Its brown back, small size and quicker, jerkier flight separate brown-throated martin at once from most other members of the swallow family. It is most similar to the sand martin, Riparia riparia , which is its northern counterpart.

The 12 cm long brown-throated martin is brown above and white or pale brown below. It lacks the narrow brown band on the breast shown by the sand martin; the bill is black and the legs are brown. Sexes are similar, but the young have pale tips to the feathers on the rump and wings.

The races differ in size and plumage tones of the upperparts or underparts.

R. p. paludicola, southern Africa. White underparts.

R. p. paludibula, western Africa. Smaller and darker above than the nominate form.

R. p. ducis, eastern Africa. Smaller and darker above and below than the nominate subspecies.

R. p. mauretanica, Morocco. Small and pale.

R. p. newtoni, mountains of Cameroon only. Darker above than the nominate form, brownish underparts.

R. p. cowani, Madagascar. Small, greyish underparts.

The food of this species consists of small insects, mostly gnats and other flies whose early stages are aquatic.

The twittering song of brown-throated martin is continuous when the birds are on the wing, and becomes a conversational undertone after they have settled in the roost. There is also a harsh alarm call.



Plain Martin
Date Location Count
2019-12-03 10:20Sululta Plain10
2019-12-08 08:20Lake Cheleleka5
2019-12-04 08:00Lake Cheleleka--NE viewpoint10
2019-12-03 06:14Babogaya Lake Viewpoint Lodge3
2019-12-02 08:08Bishoftu -- South Crater Lake4
2019-12-06 07:59Sheno Ponds10
2019-12-10 14:15Lake Ziway - southwestern shore4
2019-12-14 15:00Lake Awassa10
2019-12-10 17:00Lake Langano--Simbo Lodge2
2019-12-06 06:15Hara Langano Lodge2
2019-12-08 14:10Lake Nakuru NP8
2019-12-01 10:00Lake Elementaita (general)10
2019-12-07 08:17Mt. Kenya NP--Met Station Road25
2019-12-01 07:52Nairobi NP--Nagolomon Dam16
2019-12-06 07:12Nairobi NP4
2019-12-02 12:21Kilimanjaro International Airport 3
2019-12-01 11:30Rhodes Memorial2
2019-12-07 07:38Rondevlei Nature Reserve3
2019-12-08 13:24Strandfontein WTP
2019-12-06 08:45Potchefstroom Dam16
2019-12-12 17:40Benfontein Nature Reserve1
2019-12-10 16:37Walkhaven Dog Park1
2019-12-07 06:04Macassar Sewage Works1
2019-12-07 10:41Paardevlei4
2019-12-08 07:40Rietvlei Nature Reserve20
2019-12-07 16:24Bullfrog Dam5
2019-12-01 06:48Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve3
2019-12-06 07:45Tsakane dams10
2019-12-01 05:15Kruger NP--Olifants Camp18
2019-12-02 10:00De Hoop Nature Reserve--Lakeside Walking Trail3
2019-12-03 07:49Kruger NP--Orpen Rest Camp1
2019-12-06 13:56Wakkerstroom area (Please be more specific)20
2019-12-06 10:54Wakkerstroom - Yellow-breasted Pipit Fields (KZN)5
2019-12-07 15:10Midmar Dam - South Shore (Thurlow Gate)4
2019-12-11 08:51Andasibe-Mantadia NP2