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Species Guide

Nepal House Martin

Delichon nipalense

The Nepal house martin (Delichon nipalense) is a non-migratory bird of the swallow family Hirundinidae. Exhibiting blue-black upperparts with a stark white rump, and white underparts, this species is a dashing sight against the Himalayan skies. It is distinguished by its black throat and black undertail, contrasting with its close relatives, the Asian house martin and common house martin.

Identification Tips

Adults measure approximately 13 cm in length, with blue-black upperparts, a pure white rump, and white underparts. The tail and upperwings are brownish-black, while the underwings are grey-brown. Legs and feet are brownish-pink and feathered white. The eyes are brown, and the bill is black. The juvenile is less glossy with a duskier throat and buff-washed underparts. The subspecies D. n. cuttingi is slightly larger than the nominate, with a wing length of 99–106 mm.


The Nepal house martin is found in river valleys and wooded mountain ridges at altitudes ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 meters, though primarily below 3,000 meters. Outside the breeding season, they may descend to lower altitudes, occasionally reaching 150 meters.


This species breeds in the Himalayas from northwestern India through Nepal to Myanmar, northern Vietnam, and just into China. The nominate subspecies D. n. nipalense is found from Garhwal east through Nepal to western Myanmar, while D. n. cuttingi inhabits northern Myanmar, the Myanmar-Yunnan border, and northern Tonkin, Vietnam.


The Nepal house martin is a colonial nester, often forming large colonies on vertical cliffs beneath overhangs. It is known to be exceptionally fast in flight and is generally quiet, save for a short chi-i call and a brief three-note breeding song.

Song & Calls

This martin typically emits a short chi-i call in flight and has a succinct three-note song during the breeding season.


Breeding occurs from March to July, with two broods commonly raised. Nests are deep mud bowls lined with grass or feathers, situated under cliff overhangs. Clutch size is usually three to four white eggs.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding in flocks, the Nepal house martin captures insects mid-flight, often in the company of other swallows and swiftlets. Their diet includes flies and is typically hunted along ridges or above treetops.

Predators and Parasites

While predators have been little studied, the collared falconet has been known to prey on this species. It is also host to parasites such as fleas of the genus Callopsylla.

Conservation Status

The Nepal house martin is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. Its population appears stable within its large range, and while it may be localized due to specific nesting site requirements, it is fairly common in Nepal and very common in certain regions.

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Nepal House Martins on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Anuj Ghimire
22 Dec 2022 - 2:44am

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