Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vagrant Swallows and Martins (Family: Hirundinidae) recorded in Sri Lanka

    Birds that appear outside their normal range are known as vagrants. This post summarizes up to date published sight records of vagrants of the family Hirundinidae( Swallows and Martins) in Sri Lanka.

Confirmed vagrants

1) Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii filifera)
As per Phillips first sight-record was on 26th February 1966 of a single bird observed by Mrs. R.Wynell-Mayow and Mrs. Nugawela on a telegraph wire on the roadside between Pooneryn and Mannar (Phillips W.W.A, 1978:63). However W.A. Cave stated in 1907 of a possible sight record of it in Colombo.  Here are his words – “I should be glad if any ornithologist can tell me whether the Wire-tailed swallow [Hirundo smithii) has been observed in Ceylon. I am almost certain I saw one hawking over the sides of the Colombo Lake on July 1st of this year. The bird was very much like H. rustica, but the length of the outer tail feathers, white under parts and conspicuous white spots on the rectrices attracted my attention. If it was not H. smithii it must have been a common swallow in full summer plumage, and its presence here on the above-mentioned date is somewhat unusual, and I think worthy of record.”(Cave, W.A., 1907). Kotagama & Ratnavira (2010) has given another sight record in 1979 quoting CBC notes (CBCN 1979 Oct: 35)

Unconfirmed vagrants:

Species for which there are only one or two sight records exist are categorized here as unconfirmed vagrants. Problematic records without sufficient details are also included.

     2) Pale Crag-martin (Hirundo obsoleta pallida)
Bligh has reported an occurrence of a Martin in Kandapolla valley in the Haputhale range during North-east monsoon of 1876 and again in cool season of 1877-78. Legge suggested the possibility of it being the Pale Crag-martin (Legge V. 1880: 774-775). Recent sight record of it on 5th March 1988 at Kotte was reported by Rex I. De Silva (Kotagama S. & Ratnavira G. 2010: 279 Quoting De Silva R.I., 1989) & (Kaluthota C.D. & Kotagama S.W., 2009)

     3) Dusky Crag-martin (Hirundo concolor)
Single sight-record from the Bellanwila-Attidiya marsh on 21st January 1993 by Jagath Gunawardana is the only record so far available of its occurrence in Sri Lanka. (Hoffmann, T. W., 1994))

     4) Streak-throated Swallow [Indian Cliff Swallow] (Hirundo fluvicola)
Single bird seen on a telegraph wire at Sita Eliya patanas close to Nuweraeliya on 8th February 1948 by W.W.A. Phillips is the first record of this swallow in Sri Lanka (Phillips W.W.A 1978:63 ). Second record is from DebarawewaTissa by Ben King and party on 6th February 1992. They observed two birds (Hoffmann, T. W., 1993). Probably the same species is again recorded as Indian Hill Swallow at Pannegamuwa in the 2008-2011 report of the Ceylon Bird Club, though it is mentioned in it as 2nd record after 25(?) years (Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011)


Cave, W.A. 1907- Rare Colombo birds. Spolia Zeylanica. 5(17):65
De Silva, R.I., 1989. New sight record: Pale crag-martin Malkoha Jan:2
Hoffmann, T. W., 1994. Ceylon Bird Club Notes, 1993. Loris, 20(3), 107-109.
Hoffmann, T. W., 1993. Notes from the Ceylon Bird Club, 1992. Loris, 20(1), p12-14.
Kaluthota C.D. & Kotagama S.W. 2009. Revised Avifaunal List of Sri Lanka, Occasional Paper No.02, October 2009, Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka (Downloaded from )
Kotagama, S., Ratnavira, G., 2010. An illustrated Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka, Colombo.
Legge V., 1880. A History of the birds of Ceylon  1983 second edition.
Phillips W.W.A., 1978 Annotated checklist of the Birds of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1978 revised edition.
Warakagoda D. & Sirivardana U., 2011. Report from the Ceylon Bird Club for 2008-2011, Loris 26 (1&2)

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