263 Sand Martin
(Riparia riparia)


12-13cm. The Sand Martin is one of the smallest swallows. Dull grey-brown above (primaries slightly darker) and white below, with grey-brown breast-band separating white throat from white belly. Underwings dark (grey-brown, wing coverts somewhat darker). Tail shallowly but clearly forked and without white ‘windows’. Differs from closely related Plain Martin in somewhat larger size, dark breast-band, white throat and contrastingly darker underwing-coverts. Flight rapid and light. When accelerating, wings beaten backwards and in towards body, so then look narrow; does not glide that often.


The Sand Martin is fairly common colonial breeder. Widespread throughout Hungary but more abundant in the Great Plain. Favours the slumping sand and loess walls at low and medium elevations, as well as vertical walls of gravel pits and sand quarries but also occupies borrow pits and dyke embankments. Nearly half of the Hungarian population nests in bank walls along the Tisza River, where the largest European colony with some two thousand breeding pairs can be found. Common on passage during spring and Autumn. Arrives in April and migrates southwards in August. Northern populations pass through Hungary in large masses in August and September, at times in October or in exceptional cases in November.

263 Sand Martinpic

© Graphics by Szabolcs Kókay

Source: 1) Lovászi Péter (editor): Javasolt különleges madárvédelmi területek Magyarországon, Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2002; 2) BirdLife International:IUCN Red List for birds. Species factsheet; 3) Králl Attila, Nagy Károly: Fontos Madárélőhelyek Magyarországon (Területek, kritériumok és minősítő fajok) MME Monitoring Központ, 2007; 4) Szabolcs Kókay bird illustrations; 5) www.hungarianbirdwatching.com bird descriptions and checklists, 2004-2012; 6) Lars Svensson et al.: Collins Bird Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe 2nd Edition, Harper Collins, 2010; 7) MME Nomenclator Bizottság: Nomenclator avium Hungariae. An annotated list of the birds of Hungary. Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület, 2008