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Tree Martin

A group of three Tree Martins perched on a horizontal branch
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Scientific Name: Petrochelidon nigricans

Size: 10 to 13 cm

What does it look like?

This small, swallow-like bird is similar in appearance to the Fairy Martin Petrochelidon ariel and the Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena, and all three species overlap in range. The Tree Martin can be distinguished by its whitish-grey rump and short V-shaped tail (the Welcome Swallow has a dark rump and usually has long outer tail streamers) and dark blue-black crown (reddish-brown in the Fairy Martin). The remaining upperparts are also blue-black and the underparts are greyish-white, with a reddish-buff wash on the edges of the breast and thighs. All three species have a similar wide gape and adjacent rictal bristles, ad feed on aerial insects.

Where is it found?

This species occurs throughout Australia, and further north into New Guinea and Indonesia.

What are its habitats & habits?

The Tree Martin inhabits a variety of habitats, often near wetlands, and most individuals migrate during the southern winter to the warmer parts of northern Australia and to New Guinea.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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