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Bird name:

Sand Martin

Riparia riparia




Swallows (Hirundinidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Gravel pits, Riverbanks

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Polygamous, Colonial

Egg Colour:


Number of Eggs:

2 - 7

Incubation Days:

14 - 16

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Nest cup lined with feathers, grass, leaves and other soft material.

Nest Location:

In a chamber at the end of a tunnel dug or found in riverbank, sand quarry or cliff face.




Sand Martin: Small swallow with brown upperparts, and a brown breast band separating white underparts from white throat and chin. Tail is notched. Brown legs and feet. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has a less distinct breast band and feathers on the back have a pale fringe.

Range and Habitat

Sand Martin: Summer visitor to most of the UK and Ireland. Begins to arrive in March and leaves by August. Spends the winter in Africa. Preferred habitats include riverbanks, creeks, seashores, and lakes, where ever there are sandy vertical banks for nesting. Also found nesting in quarries.

Breeding and Nesting

Sand Martin: Two to seven white eggs are laid in a grass and feather nest in a chamber at the end of a deep tunnel, usually near the top of a steep bank. Nests in colonies; nesting banks may sometimes appear riddled with holes. Incubation ranges from 14 to 16 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Sand Martin: Feeds mostly on flying insects such as termites, treehoppers, leafhoppers, beetles, moths, and flies that it captures on the wing. Occasionally preys upon spiders or ants if there is a scarcity of aerial prey; forages singly or in flocks.


Sand Martin: Song is a sharp, unmusical "pret" or "trit-trit."

Similar Species

Sand Martin: House Martin has a distinctive white rump and lacks the Sand Martin's brown breast band.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area of the face just below the bill.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX