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
2021-02-23 11:02Embouchure du Oued Souss1
2021-02-28 08:03Daya Dar Bouazza6
2021-02-13 10:00Echuya Forest Reserve2
2021-02-15 10:15Lake Victoria--Mfangano Island1
2021-02-26 05:59Angama Lodge (Ol Kurruk)3
2021-02-05 06:18Maasai Mara NR--Mara Triangle2
2021-02-07 16:19Kuifkopvisvanger Farm20
2021-02-07 13:13Kliphoek Salt Pans50
2021-02-05 16:20Maasai Mara NR--Aruba Mara Camp & Talek Gate
2021-02-08 15:03Lake Awassa--United Africa Shebelle Hotel area1
2021-03-05 08:05Intaka Island2
2021-03-03 10:00Rondevlei Nature Reserve2
2021-02-28 12:49Murungaru, North Kinangop1
2021-03-02 12:15Strandfontein WTP1
2021-02-27 17:03Aberdare NP--Mount Satima4
2021-03-04 10:14Paardevlei1
2021-02-21 15:29Aberdare Country Club2
2021-02-27 14:20U of N Kabete Campus & Field Station (incl. Loresho Swamp)1
2021-02-07 14:48Kabete Dam (Gatara River)
2021-02-13 12:30Dulecha
2021-02-17 07:43Nairobi River @ National Museums of Kenya (incl. Boulevard Hotel)2
2021-02-21 07:06Nairobi NP
2021-02-20 08:33Rooisand Nature Reserve2
2021-02-21 09:00Magongo Hills3
2021-02-10 17:36Sandberg Fynbos Reserve3
2021-02-14 09:07Mandegee farm4
2021-02-28 12:18Abe Bailey Nature Reserve1
2021-03-03 06:30Diepsloot Nature Reserve8
2021-02-06 08:14Rietvlei Nature Reserve6
2021-02-21 06:00Thokoza Wetland1
2021-02-15 15:39Bitou River Valley5
2021-02-08 05:39Kruger NP--Bridge over Luvuvhu River2
2021-03-01 07:41Kabeljous Estuary8
2021-02-08 06:18Wakkerstroom area (Please be more specific)4
2021-02-21 15:22Midmar Dam--South Shore (Thurlow Gate)6
2021-02-28 09:37Karkloof--Lower Rd1
2021-02-28 09:00Macaneta-- Wetland, dune forests and coast1
2021-02-13 06:39Pietermaritzburg--Bisley Road2
2021-03-02 07:31Pietermaritzburg--Darvill Resources Park2
2021-02-28 08:30Mpempe Pan
2021-02-28 06:30Nibela Floodplains