Caribbean martin

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Caribbean martin
Progne dominicensis 1894.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Hirundinidae
Genus: Progne
Species: P. dominicensis
Binomial name
Progne dominicensis
(Gmelin, 1789)

The Caribbean martin or white-bellied martin (Progne dominicensis) is a large swallow.

It breeds on Caribbean islands from Jamaica east to Tobago. It is closely related to two species to which it formerly was considered conspecific-P. sinaloae (Sinaloa martin) and P. cryptoleuca (Cuban martin). There are sight records from mainland Central and South America, and most birds appear to migrate to the South American mainland. A single bird was recorded in Key West, Florida, on May 9, 1895 (AOU 2000).

It has at various times been considered alternatively as a race of the purple martin, Progne subis.

Description[edit]

In Tobago

Adult Caribbean martins are 18.5 cm in length, with a forked tail and relatively broad wings, and weigh 40 g. Adult males are a glossy blue-black with contrasting white lower underparts. Females and juveniles are duller than the male, with grey-brown breast and flanks and white lower underparts.

Behaviour[edit]

The Caribbean martin nests in cavities in banks and buildings, or old woodpecker holes. 3-6 eggs are laid in the lined nest, and incubated for 15 days, with another 26-27 to fledging. Just as the purple martin, this species may compete with other passerines for nesting cavities. In particular, the main foe is the house sparrow [1] in urban areas, where they mostly use man-made structures, whereas in more rural locations Picidae holes in coconut trees are favored, and there is less competition with the sparrows.

Caribbean martins are gregarious birds which hunt for insects in flight. Their call is a gurgly chew-chew.

Flying in Tobago

References[edit]

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) (2000): Forty-second supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 117(3): 847–858. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0847:FSSTTA]2.0.CO;2
  • ffrench, Richard; O'Neill, John Patton & Eckelberry, Don R. (1991): A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition). Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, N.Y.. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2
  • Turner, Angela & Rose, Chris (1989): Swallows and martins: an identification guide and handbook. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-51174-7