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
2021-06-04 07:25Semuliki NP--Kirumya Trail1
2021-06-10 05:33Murchison Falls NP--general area (please be more specific)3
2021-05-26 10:00Victoria Falls Sewerage Ponds1
2021-05-21 06:15Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle
2021-06-10 11:30Olare Motorogi Conservancy5
2021-05-25 17:04Maasai Mara NR--Sand River1
2021-06-03 16:52St Andrews Turi, KE (-0.279, 35.764)1
2021-05-30 07:25Lake Cheleleka--NE viewpoint20
2021-05-19 14:15Intaka Island1
2021-05-22 11:31Rondevlei Nature Reserve40
2021-06-11 11:20Strandfontein WTP3
2021-06-05 16:20Mpala Research Centre--Hippo Pool4
2021-05-23 12:30Ankober North7
2021-06-12 12:32Paardevlei
2021-06-13 15:30Manguo Swamp8
2021-05-26 05:50Nkwali Camp8
2021-05-27 08:54Luambe NP3
2021-05-16 06:00Kfeet, Wetlands & Lily Lake, Karura Forest4
2021-06-12 09:30Nairobi NP4
2021-06-05 10:17Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve2
2021-06-12 10:00Arusha NP100
2021-05-17 10:45De Mond Nature Reserve1
2021-05-23 15:09Honeywood Farms3
2021-06-13 09:10Mandegee farm1
2021-05-16 07:37Pilanesberg NP--Bakabung2
2021-06-13 08:00Pilanesberg NP--Nkakane Link Waterhole
2021-06-10 15:30Kgomo-Kgomo2
2021-06-10 08:30Zaagkuildrift Rd (Please be more specific; Do not log Kgomo-Kgomo birds here.)2
2021-06-13 15:05Nylsvley Nature Reserve--Vogelfontein1
2021-05-29 07:04Roodepoort Athletics Stadium7
2021-05-17 06:45Eagle Canyon Golf Estate1
2021-06-11 09:20Glen Austin Bird Sanctuary5
2021-06-06 07:45Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve10
2021-05-20 08:27Goukamma Nature Reserve--Ferry Trailhead1
2021-05-31 07:08Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve1
2021-06-11 16:00Tsakane dams50
2021-05-30 13:17Marievale Bird Sanctuary4
2021-05-24 07:30Leeupan (Mpumalanga Province)6
2021-06-04 07:28Grown Energy (Sofala)5
2021-06-06 10:05Kruger NP--Letaba River Bridge1
2021-06-06 06:44Kruger NP--S446
2021-06-10 08:57Kruger NP--Skukuza Camp1
2021-05-23 15:10Cathedral Peak Hotel2
2021-05-17 16:31Hawane Reservoir6
2021-06-08 07:58Kruger NP--Lower Sabie-Nkuhlu Road (H4-1)6
2021-06-06 08:05Kruger NP--Sunset Dam1
2021-05-23 09:45Karkloof--Conservancy1
2021-05-30 14:06Midmar Dam--South Shore (Thurlow Gate)20
2021-06-06 11:00Angavokely Forest Station1