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Wildlife in Italy: reddish swallow Cecropis daurica Laxmann, 1769

Wildlife in Italy: reddish swallow Cecropis daurica Laxmann, 1769


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Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Passeriformi
Family: Swallows
Kind: Cecropis
Species: C. daurica Laxmann, 1769

In Europe, this small passerine is present in the Palearctic and Paleo-tropical regions and nests in southern Europe, central-western Africa and in large Asian territories: Asia Minor, Central Asia, the Middle East, India, China, Japan. In the western Palearctic only the subspecies Cecropis daurica rufula nests. The Iberian and Balkan Peninsula host almost the entire nesting population in Europe, while tropical Africa and southern Asia usually host the reddish Swallow in winter, although the populations concentrated in the southern areas of the Asian area are partially sedentary . Rock overhangs, bridges, cliffs and roofs of abandoned houses in hot and dry, open or rough, coastal, but also indoor areas, are the favorite places for this bird to nest.
In Italy it is a nesting migrant located on the peninsular territory, in Sicily and in the major islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The following subspecies have been classified:
- Cecropis daurica daurica (Laxmann, 1769)
- Cecropis daurica japonica (Temminck Schlegel, 1845)
- Cecropis daurica nipalensis (Hodgson, 1837)
- Cecropis daurica erythropygia (Sykes, 1832)
- Cecropis daurica rufula (Temminck, 1835)
- Cecropis daurica melanocrissus (Rüppell, 1845)
- Cecropis daurica kumboensis (Bannerman, 1923)
- Cecropis daurica emini (Reichenow, 1892)

Reddish swallow - Cecropis daurica (photo www.vogelwarte.ch)

Reddish swallow - Cecropis daurica ssp. rufula

Reddish swallow collecting mud for the nest - Cecropis daurica ssp. erythropygia (photo J.M.Garg)

Distinctive characters

Length: 14-19 cm
Wingspan: 28-30 cm

The adult male has the upper parts almost completely bluish black, with the exception of the rump which is dull reddish (lighter towards the tail), the nape and the sides of the head which are of the same color. The forehead is pale red slightly streaked with dark gray. All the lower parts, except the undertail which is blackish, are light cream with a reddish tinge with fine and little marked light brown streaks; the throat also has the same color. Legs and beak are blackish. The adult female differs from adult males in having a slightly shorter tail. The juveniles are similar to the adult females but with the upper parts with the light-edged plumage and the pale reddish parts much lighter and less alive.

Biology

The reddish Swallow feeds mainly on insects, which it catches while in flight. It mostly frequents sea cliffs and rocky areas; it rarely goes to inhabited centers, only exceptionally it can happen to see it flying on cultivated land near the countries. The nesting period, which in Italy runs from March to August, sees the gregarious character of the species prevailing, which in general does not usually form nesting colonies. Characteristic is the nest construction technique, made with mud, in the shape of a hemisphere and provided with a long access tunnel which, once the work is finished, is often used also by other species of birds. The female usually lays 3 to 6 eggs.


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