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25

Tree Martin

(Petrochelidon [Hirundo] nigricans)
Alternate name(s): "Tree Swallow"
Aboriginal name(s): "kybot", "kabikolongkorong", "kabiwatwat", "kybotkybot", "maningwilwil" (WA)

Size: 12-13 cm

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Tree Martin at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Frontal view of a Tree Martin
[Gilgandra Flora Reserve, NSW, December 2016]

Frontal view of a Tree Martin (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Rottnest Island Airport, WA, February 2016]

Near-lateral view of a Tree Martin perched on bitumen (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Rottnest Island Airport, WA, February 2016]

Near-lateral view of a Tree Martin perched on red soil (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Boolardy Station, Murchison, WA, August 2016]

Lateral view of a Tree Martin collecting mud (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Lateral view of a Tree Martin (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lake Nuga Nuga, QLD, April 2013]

Dorsal view of a Tree Martin
[Gilgandra Flora Reserve, NSW, December 2016]

Tree Martins in the top of a dead tree
[Gilgandra Flora Reserve, NSW, December 2016]

Tree Martins resting on a log
[Wee Waa, NSW, September 2012]

8 of about 1000 Tree Martin perched on bitumen (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Rottnest Island Airport, WA, February 2016]

Tree Martins resting at a cotton irrigation farm dam (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Two Tree Martins high up in a dead tree
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Frontal and lateral view of Tree Martins
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Two Tree Martins, while preening, show very conspicuously their dark caps, making identification easy
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Here a look at part of the busy little bunch...
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Part of a Tree Martin flock populating the top of a dead tree; more birds were seen in other trees in the vicinity at the same time, all busy preening
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Here a whole treetop full of Tree Martins
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Tree Martin in flight, with the characteristic black cap clearly visible
[Goran Lake, NSW, June 2012]

Tree Martin in flight seen from underneath

Tree Martin in flight seen from underneath

In this photo both the upperwing and underwing patterns of Tree Martins can be seen
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, May 2012]

Tree Martins, with black caps, and Fairy Martins, with orange-brown caps (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Tree Martin (lower left) and Fairy Martin (upper right)
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, August 2013]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Dorsal view of a Tree Martin (lower left); an immature bird can be seen at the top
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2012]

Frontal view of two juvenile Tree Martins waiting to be fed (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Sandy Creek Road, Ensay South, VIC, December 2013]

Juvenile Tree Martins being fed by their parents (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Sandy Creek Road, Ensay South, VIC, December 2013]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Jan Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: 15 - 16 days Fledging age: 18 - 20 days

Given the right conditions, Tree Martins can breed any time of the year.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Tree hollow Material: Grass, leaves Height above ground: 10 - 25 m

Tree Martins use relatively small hollows in the upper branches of trees. If necessary, when hollows are too big, they use mud to reduce their diameters.

Tree Martin bringing mud for reducing the diameter of the entrance to its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, October 2015]

Tree Martin working on the entrance to its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, October 2015]

Tree Martin carrying poo away from its nest (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Castlereagh River, Gilgandra, NSW, November 2016]

Tree Martins inspecting a potential nesting hollow in a dead tree standing in water
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, March 2013]

Tree Martin collecting nesting material (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Tree Martin carrying nesting material (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 18 x 13 mm Colour: White, with light-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: (Partly) migratory Elementary unit: Flock

Flocks of Tree Martins have the habit of returning to the same tree to nest in for many years.

Some of the photos above already show that Tree Martins are colonial birds. Below another example of this type of behaviour. Note also, based on photos shown above, that they have favourite nesting trees, to which they will return year after year.

Tree Martins on a cotton farm (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Food, Diet

Adults: Small insects Dependents: As adults Water intake: Daily(?)

Like all other swallows known to us, Tree Martins are insect hunters. They feed in-flight on small insects.

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

tmartin_jg_20160806.mp3 neglecta (central WA) Contact calls? (in-flight) © JG

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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