Martin, banded, Riparia cincta
The 15-17 cm long Banded Martin is the largest Riparia
species. It has earth-brown upper parts, except for a white stripe above the eye. Its underparts are white, as are the underwing coverts and it has a dark brown breast band and sometimes a thin dark line across the vent. Sexes are similar, but the young have a paler breast band and golden tips to the upper part feathers.
It is easily distinguished from the smaller Sand Martin by its square tail and white on the underwings and from the Brown-throated Sand Martin by its white throat. It is less gregarious than those species, and is typically seen in pairs or small flocks.
The Banded Martin is found in open habitats such as farmland, grassland and savannah, usually near water.
The southern nominate subspecies of South Africa and Zimbabwe is migratory, wintering further north, particularly in the west, where it can move sometimes as far as Gambia. Banded Martins occur either singly or in small groups foraging low over the grassland.
This species has a slow and graceful flight and frequently perches facing the breeze.
Breeding and nesting:
It breeds across Africa from Cameroon and Zaire to Ethiopia south to the Cape in South Africa, although it is absent from the driest regions of western South Africa and southern Namibia. The Banded Martin is a cavity nester and, unlike the other members of its genus, is not colonial in its nesting habits. Its nest is at the end of a 60-90 cm long tunnel usually excavated by the birds in a natural sand bank or earth mound. The actual nest is a litter of straw and feathers in a chamber at the end of the burrow. Two to five white eggs are the normal clutch, and are incubated by both parents.
Its diet consists of insects, usually taken in flight over grassland.