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
2019-08-09 13:00Queen Elizabeth II NP--Kazinga Channel boat6
2019-08-12 10:17Lake Cheleleka--south end1
2019-08-07 10:51Serengeti NP--Visitor Center1
2019-08-08 07:00Lake Elementaita--Sentrim Lodge (formerly Flamingo Camp)4
2019-08-12 11:32Lake Naivasha16
2019-08-18 09:50Lake Manyara NP (Arusha Province)2
2019-08-16 09:48Tarangire NP--Entrance Gate3
2019-08-16 17:45Magongo Hills9
2019-08-11 08:45Fish River @ Seeheim1
2019-08-19 08:57Luambe NP1
2019-08-17 16:12Augrabies Falls NP--Campground1
2019-08-16 09:00Bushmanskloof Nature Reserve2
2019-08-11 07:30West Coast NP35
2019-08-18 17:23Kommetjie--Lighthouse1
2019-08-13 08:00Rondevlei Nature Reserve1
2019-08-17 16:04False Bay Seal Island Reserve2
2019-08-12 07:00Jonkershoek Nature Reserve5
2019-08-10 13:25Soutpan5
2019-08-10 08:50Soetdoring Nature Reserve2
2019-08-18 09:18Free State Botanical Gardens1
2019-08-13 15:01Karoo NP--Bird Hide2
2019-08-08 08:28Bontebok NP
2019-08-09 06:30Agulhas Plains (general area)20
2019-08-09 09:25De Hoop Nature Reserve--Campground2
2019-08-07 08:30Moose Valley Private Nature Reserve3
2019-08-11 11:30Rooiberg Lodge5
2019-08-18 11:22Kruger NP--Crocodile Bridge Camp2
2019-08-17 10:15Hawane Reservoir35
2019-08-11 09:52Wilderness NP--Rondevlei Bird Hide1
2019-08-11 06:53Wakkerstroom bridge/causeway5
2019-08-11 11:56Midmar Dam Nature Reserve25
2019-08-18 09:41HiP--Imfolozi Section2
2019-08-09 14:00Durban--Beachfront6
2019-08-18 07:00East London Coast NR2
2019-08-10 13:24Ivato International Airport5
2019-08-14 06:04Andasibe-Mantadia NP4
2019-08-08 12:11Amboditanimena Trail2