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On the breeding ecology of House Martins Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in Northeast Algeria

  • University 8 May 1945 Guelma

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The study of the reproductive biology of House Martins Delichon urbica was carried out in the cities of Guelma and Hammam Debagh, Northeast Algeria during two years 2013 and 2014. Birds of this species produce two broods per year and per breeding pair. At both study sites, the egg-laying period lasted for almost four months. Egg weight and volume differed between broods and years. The mean clutch size was 3.87 ± 1.29, 4.19 ± 1.02 in Guelma and 3.93 ± 1.13, 3.64 ± 1.30 in Hammam in 2013 and 2014, respectively, with a seasonal decline. Hatching success reached 69 and 74.25% in Guelma, and 74.20 and 63.39% in Hammam in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Fledging success was 64.57 and 72.62% in Guelma, whereas, in Hammam it was 72.22 and 58.16% in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Hatching failure was the main cause of mortality. The breeding parameters and morphometrics of the House Martin’s eggs in Algeria determined during our study differed from those reported in previous studies carried out in different parts of Europe.
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Zoology and Ecology
ISSN: 2165-8005 (Print) 2165-8013 (Online) Journal homepage:
On the breeding ecology of House Martins
Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in Northeast
Bochra Hamlaoui, Meriem Rouaiguia, Rabah Zebsa, Fadhila Kafi, Soumia
Haddad, Naoual Lahlah & Moussa Houhamdi
To cite this article: Bochra Hamlaoui, Meriem Rouaiguia, Rabah Zebsa, Fadhila Kafi, Soumia
Haddad, Naoual Lahlah & Moussa Houhamdi (2016): On the breeding ecology of House
Martins Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in Northeast Algeria, Zoology and Ecology, DOI:
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On the breeding ecology of House Martins Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in
Northeast Algeria
Bochra Hamlaouia, Meriem Rouaiguiab, Rabah Zebsab, Fadhila Kab, Soumia Haddadb, Naoual Lahlahb and
Moussa Houhamdib
aLaboratoire des Ressources Naturelles et Aménagement des Milieux Sensibles (RNAMS), Faculté des Sciences, Département de Biologie,
Université Larbi Ben M’hidi d’Oum El-Bouaghi, Oum El-Bouaghi, Algérie; bDepartment of Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Faculté
SNV-STU, Laboratoire Biologie, Eau & Environment (LBEE), Université 8 Mai 1945 Guelma, Guelma, Algeria
The study of the reproductive biology of House Martins Delichon urbica was carried out in the
cities of Guelma and Hammam Debagh, Northeast Algeria during two years 2013 and 2014.
Birds of this species produce two broods per year and per breeding pair. At both study sites,
the egg-laying period lasted for almost four months. Egg weight and volume diered between
broods and years. The mean clutch size was 3.87±1.29, 4.19±1.02 in Guelma and 3.93±1.13,
3.64 ± 1.30 in Hammam in 2013 and 2014, respectively, with a seasonal decline. Hatching
success reached 69 and 74.25% in Guelma, and 74.20 and 63.39% in Hammam in 2013 and
2014, respectively. Fledging success was 64.57 and 72.62% in Guelma, whereas, in Hammam
it was 72.22 and 58.16% in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Hatching failure was the main cause of
mortality. The breeding parameters and morphometrics of the House Martin’s eggs in Algeria
determined during our study diered from those reported in previous studies carried out in
dierent parts of Europe.
© 2016 Nature Research Centre
House Martins; Delichon
urbica; breeding biology;
clutch size; laying date;
Northeast Algeria
Received 5 October 2015
Accepted 29 January 2016
CONTACT Moussa Houhamdi
Some species of birds raise only one brood per breed-
ing season while others more than one brood (Evans-
Ogden and Stutchbury 1996; Verhulst, Tinbergen, and
Daan 1997). The number of broods is limited by envi-
ronmental conditions, which in their own turn are often
predetermined by the abundance and availability of food
during the breeding season (Morrison 1998).
The House Martin Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) is
among the most common migratory aerial insectivores in
Europe, Africa and Asia (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997; Fulya
and Nuri 2007). According to the preliminary estimate, its
global population size reaches 60,600,000–288,000,000
individuals (BirdLife International 2012). Its main prey
are Diptera, Hemiptera, and Hymenoptera (Turner and
Rose 1989).
House Martins have been well studied in Europe and
Asia. As a model species, it has been used to study the
eects of parasitism (Moller 1990; De Lope, Møller, and de
la Cruz 1998; Merino et al. 1998; Van Rooyen et al. 2014),
immunocompetence (Christe, Møller, and De Lope 1998,
2000, 2001, 2002; Marzal et al. 2007), and breeding biol-
ogy (Pajuelo, De Lope, and Da Silva 1992; Górska 2001;
Mazgajski 2007; Piersma 2008, 2013). The widespread dis-
tribution of the species makes it a good model for the study
of the geographic pattern in breeding success. Ecological
characteristics and biological parameters of the House
Martin have been studied in Britain (Bryant 1975, 1978a,
1978b), the central part and North-East of Europe (Lind
1960; Lyuleeva 1974; Rheinwald 1979; Pikula and Beklova
1987), but only scarce information is available on its breed-
ing biology in North Africa (Seriot and Alves 2002).
In Algeria, three studies on the diet and only one
study on the breeding biology of the House martin were
carried out (Lahlah et al. 2006; Boukhemza-Zemmouri
et al. 2013; Merzouki et al. 2014; Rouaiguia et al. 2015).
Further research is needed to fully explore the southern
part of its distribution.
Materials and methods
The eldwork was conducted during two subse-
quent years (2013 and 2014) at two sites: Guelma City
(36°2824.88N; 7°2501.61E) and Hammam Debagh
province (36°2743.96N; 7°1603.14E), Northeast
Algeria (Figure 1). Both reproductive sites were close to
rivers; the site in Guelma City was close to the Seybouse
River while that in Hammam Debagh was close to the
Bouhamdane River. Nests were built on the periphery
of the urban area in balconies under the eaves of the
school building.
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Data analysis
Statistical analyses were carried out using SPSS 20.0
software. Residuals were checked for normality, and
non-parametric tests were applied when residuals were
not normally distributed. Mann–Whitney U tests were
used to test if there was a signicant dierence in egg
weight, egg volume, height of nests, clutch size, dura-
tion of incubation, number of hatchlings and number of
edglings between broods, years and sites. Variation in
the duration of incubation between clutches of dierent
size was examined using non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis
The two-sample Kolmogorov–Smirnov test was used
to test if there was a signicant dierence in the phenol-
ogy of egg laying among broods and years and between
To test if the egg laying date had an eect on hatching
success, Spearman’s rank correlation was used to detect
the relationship between the laying date and the num-
ber of hatchlings. Spearman’s rank correlation was also
conducted to test the relationship between the nest
height and the clutch size in both years pooled.
Simple linear regression was used to reveal a relation-
ship between the clutch size and the laying date in each
year in 2013 and 2014 in Guelma and Hammam, respec-
tively, in order to determine whether the clutch size
increased or decreased over the reproductive season (for
All nests were recorded and labelled with a unique
code. Weekly visits were conducted from March to
August to determine the start of egg laying. All eggs
were individually marked with permanent markers,
after which the laying date was estimated in each nest.
Afterwards, the clutch size, hatching success and edg-
ing success were calculated. In order to estimate vertical
stratication, the height of the nest above the oor was
measured with a 10dam.
A Pesola spring balance was used to weigh
eggs with an accuracy of 0.1g. Egg length (L), and
breadth (B) were measured to the nearest 0.01mm
using digital calipers. Hoyt’s formula was used to
calculate egg volume (cm3) (V = 0.000509 L × B2)
(Hoyt 1979). Incubation duration was calculated as
the time elapsed from the beginning of incubation
to the hatching date.
Hatching and edging success were expressed as a
proportion of the eggs hatched and edged to the total
number of the eggs laid. Every egg that failed to hatch
was noted (Lahlah 2010; Hafner 1977 et Franchimont
1985 in Si Bachir et al. 2008).
After hatching, nests were every day care-
fully checked. Chicks were individually marked
with indelible markers on their legs. Chicks were
weighed 11 times in their nestling lifespan with an
electronic balance to the nearest 0.1g to estimate
their growth.
Figure 1.Geographic location of the study area (region of Guelma).
Source: MapInfo Professional 8.0 and scanned
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the two broods pooled), and to model nestling growth.
Mean values are given ±1 standard deviation (SD).
Egg and nest characteristics
A total of 592 eggs were examined from 40 to 55 nests
in 2013, and 24 and 23 nests in 2014 in Guelma and
Hammam, respectively. Egg characteristics are summa-
rised in Table 1.
In Guelma, the mean egg length and breadth in
2013 and 2014 were similar (Length: 18.56±0.76mm,
18.60 ± 0.84 mm) (U = 988, p = 0.51), (Breadth:
12.92 ± 0.37 mm, 12.95 ± 0.43 mm) (U = 1029.5,
p = 0.74), respectively. In Hammam, the mean egg
length in 2013 was lower than in 2014 (18.35±0.91mm,
18.72±1.04mm) (U=220, p=0.23), and the mean egg
breadth was similar (12.93±0.35mm, 12.88±0.37mm)
(U=246, p=0.52), respectively.
There was no signicant dierence recorded in
egg weight and volume between broods and years in
Guelma (Weight: broods U = 716.50, p = 0.50; years.
U=1006, p=0.61), (Volume: broods. U=236, p=0.78;
years. U=261, p=0.74), and Hammam (Weight: broods.
U=758.50, p=0.76; years. U=1011, p=0.63), (Volume:
broods. U=240, p=0.85; years. U=254, p=0.64). Egg
weight and volume were similar for both years pooled
at Hammam and Guelma sites (U = 1984, p = 0.25)
(U=2062, p=0.52), respectively.
Vertical distribution of nests
A total of 195 and 106 nests were used to analyse the verti-
cal distribution of nests in Guelma and Hammam, respec-
tively. In general, nests were built at the mean height of
7.60±0m and 6.82±1.58m (range 3.6–7.6m) in Guelma,
which was lower than that in Hammam (7.95±2.50m,
9.30± 3.89m) (range 3.6–15.20m) in both years 2013
and 2014, respectively. No signicant dierence in the
height of nests between broods was detected in Guelma
(U=2983.50, p=0.70), but a dierence was detected
Table 1.Egg and nest characteristics of the House Martin in Guelma and Hammam, Algeria in 2013 and 2014.
Guelma Tech School Hammam School
2013 2014 2013 2014
Brood 1 (Mean ± SD) N = 110 egg N = 223 egg N = 64 egg N = 75 egg
Egg length (mm) 18.63 ± 0.71 18.58 ± 0.86 18.32 ± 0.84 18.88 ± 1.12
Egg breadth (mm) 12.98 ± 0.38 12.90 ± 0.42 12.95 ± 0.36 12.81 ± 0.38
Egg volume (cm3)1.6 ± 0.13 1.58 ± 0.14 1.57 ± 0.13 1.58 ± 0.15
Egg weight (g) 1.62 ± 0.15 1.60 ± 0.17 1.60 ± 0.17 1.57 ± 0.16
Nest height (m) 7.6 (n = 76) 6.95 ± 1.48 (n = 80) 8.17 ± 2.52 (n = 46) 8.96 ± 3.67 (n = 33)
Clutch size 4.32 ± 1.13 4.30 ± 0.99 4.34 ± 0.94 3.90 ± 1.23
Brood 2 (Mean ± SD) N = 51 egg N = 19 egg N = 31 egg N = 19 egg
Egg length (mm) 18.47 ± 0.85 18.96 ± 0.66 18.40 ± 1.04 18.25 ± 0.65
Egg breadth (mm) 12.84 ± 0.35 13.28 ± 0.17 12.89 ± 0.35 13.08 ± 0.27
Egg volume (cm) 1.55 ± 0.11 1.70 ± 0.07 1.56 ± 0.13 1.59 ± 0.08
Egg weight (g) 1.59 ± 0.12 1.72 ± 0.08 1.58 ± 0.13 1.58 ± 0.09
Nest height (m) 7.6 (n = 31) 5.60 ± 2.13 (n = 8) 7.38 ± 2.42 (n = 18) 10.5 ± 4.6 (n = 9)
Clutch size 2.77 ± 0.95 3.12 ± 0.64 2.88 ± 0.90 2.66 ± 1.11
between years (U= 3798.50, p < 0.0001) (Table 1). In
Hammam, the height of nests between broods and years
was similar (U=1029.50, p=0.77; U=1108.50, p=0.10),
respectively, and it diered between sites in both years
pooled (U=7955, p<0.0001) (Table 1). The vertical dis-
tribution of nests for both years pooled in Guelma and
Hammam showed that the majority of occupied nests
(91.20%, 48.11%) were at the height of 7.6m, respec-
tively. Over the two years of the study pooled, there was
no correlation found between the height of nests and the
hatchling number in Guelma and Hammam, respectively
(r=−0.45, N=195, p=0.53; r=−0.04, N=106, p=0.67),
and the edgling number (r=−0.51, N=195, p=0.47;
r=−0.03, N=106, p=0.69).
Clutch size and incubation
The mean clutch size of each brood, year and site is pre-
sented in Table 1. Moreover, it was greater in the rst
broods for both years pooled in Guelma and Hammam
(U=916.5, p<0.0001) (U=732, p<0.0001), respectively.
The clutch size in Guelma and Hammam diered between
broods (U= 916.50, p <0.0001; U =372, p<0.0001),
but not between years (U=4090.50, p=10; U=1200,
p=0.33), respectively, and not between sites when both
years were pooled (U=9372, p=0.21). The clutch size
was not related to the nest height in both years pooled
in Guelma and Hammam (r= 0.006, N= 195, p= 0.93;
r=−0.01, N=106, p=0.89), respectively. The clutch size
showed a significant seasonal decline between broods in
Guelma (R2=0.35, n=106, p<0.0001; R2=0.20, n=87,
p < 0.0001) (Figure 2(a)), and in Hammam (R2= 0.01,
n=63, p<0.0001; R2=0.34, n=41, p<0.0001) (Figure
2(b)) in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Incubation lasted for 13.44±2.28days (09–22days,
n=176 clutches) in Guelma, and for 13.76±2.57days
(10–22days, n=67 clutches) in Hammam for both years
In Guelma, there was no signicant dierence
observed in incubation duration between broods
(U =1604.50, p = 0.14), but it diered between years
(U=2650.50, p<0.0001), while in Hammam, it diered
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June 2 to June 30 and from June 7 to July 5 in 2013 and
2014, respectively. In Hammam, rst broods were begun
from April 15 and to June 11, and from 21 April 21 to June
30 in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and second broods
started from June 2 to July 4, and from June 10 to June
29 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The frequency of laying dates’ distribution between
the rst and second brood was dierent, but it did not
dier between years and sites, and the mean laying date
in the rst brood at both sites in 2013 was one week
earlier than that in 2014 (Table 2).
Breeding success
Over the two years of study, we surveyed 107 (415 eggs)
and 88 (369 eggs) nests in 2013 and 2014 in Guelma,
respectively, and 64 (252 eggs) and 42 (153 eggs) nests
in 2013 and 2014 in Hammam, respectively.
Numbers of hatchlings and edglings diered
between broods and years in Guelma, while in Hammam,
the number of edglings diered between broods and
years. However, the hatchling number, which was simi-
lar in dierent years, diered between broods, and did
not dier signicantly between sites (Table 3). The mean
number of hatchlings and edglings in the rst brood
was higher than in the second (Table 3). A similar pattern
of variation in hatching and edging success percentage
among all eggs in both years and sites was higher in the
rst brood than in the second (Table 3).
In both years, hatching success was 69 and 74.25%
in Guelma, and 74.20 and 63.39% in Hammam in 2013
and 2014, respectively. Fledging success was 64.57 and
72.62% in Guelma, whereas in Hammam it was 72.22 and
58.16% in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
Hatching failure in the rst brood was lower than in
the second brood in both years in Guelma and Hammam,
while chicks’ mortality in the rst brood was higher than
in the second one at both sites in 2013, and vice versa
in 2014 (Table 3).
There was a clear negative correlation discovered
between the hatchling number (r =−0.416, N= 195,
p<0.0001) (r= −0.486, N= 106, p < 0.0001), and the
laying date in the breeding season over two years pooled
in Guelma and Hammam, respectively.
Nestling growth
The weight of eight chicks was surveyed from hatch-
ing to edging in Guelma. The mean mass of nestlings
at hatching was 1.36±0.25g (1.1–1.6g, n=6). Chicks’
weight increased linearly for the rst nine days with the
mean rate of 1.64± 0.04 g/d (mean ± SE) (p <0.001,
R²=0.88). On day 9, the mean weight was 16.45±0.01g
(mean±SD). Afterwards, the weight growth was slower
until edging (day 20), when the mean weight reached
19.5±0.04g (mean±SD).
between broods (U=187, p<0.0001), but not between
years (U=413, p=0.07), and not between sites for both
years pooled (U=5493.50, p=0.40). There was no signi-
cant dierence in incubation duration recorded between
clutches of dierent size in Guelma (Kruskal–Wallis test,
χ²=10.37, df=6, p=0.11), and Hammam (Kruskal–Wallis
test, χ²=4.46, df=4, p=0.34) for both years pooled.
Egg laying occurred from April to July for both years in
Guelma and from April to July in 2013 and April to June
in 2014 in Hammam, with two broods in each year. In
Guelma, rst broods were initiated between April 15 and
June 9, and between April 18 and June 26 in 2013 and
2014, respectively, and second broods were started from
Figure 2.Seasonal decline of the clutch size of House Martins,
(a) in Guelma and (b) in Hammam in both years of study. Black
and open circles signify the clutch size in 2013 and 2014,
respectively. Broken and solid lines signify linear regression in
2013 and 2014, respectively.
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(Nilsson 1984), and rich in food resources. House
Martins place nests in balconies outside under the
eaves on the periphery of Guelma and Hammam,
and near rivers (the Seybouse and Bouhamdane
Rivers, respectively), and this choice of habitats
in the vicinity of water may be conditioned by the
availability of the resource important for the spe-
cies (food and mud) or by the attempt to minimise
energy costs invested in foraging and nest construc-
tion. In fact, Bernis (1988) has found that the suit-
able habitat for the Common Swift Apus apus is on
the periphery of cities, where the density of prey is
seven times higher than in the city center.
The range of vertical distribution and the mean
height of nests observed in Guelma and Hammam
is lower than the corresponding data reported in
literature (e.g. Martínez et al. 1996; Murgui 2002).
The mean height did not differ between broods at
both sites, and between years except in Guelma. This
might be explained by the phylopatric strategy of
the Hirundinidae for reusing old nests (Barclay 1988;
De Lope and Da Silva 1988; Shields et al. 1988; Zhou
et al. 2012). The majority of occupied nests, 91.20 and
48.11% in Guelma and Hammam respectively, were
at a height of 7.6m, which is lower than that of nests
in Poland (76.8%), which ranged from 7.6 to 16.5m
(Indykiewicz, Laskarzewska, and Nowacki 2001).
Egg and nest characteristics
In Algeria, the House Martin nests in various types of
habitats in towns, which is in agreement with reports
from other parts of the Mediterranean and the Western
Palearctic area (Snow and Perrins 1998; Murgui 2002;
Lahlah et al. 2006; Sekour et al. 2013).
Many studies have shown that egg size is an important
life-history variable that inuences breeding investment,
survival, and reproductive success (Thomas 1983; Stokland
and Amundsen 1988; Rutkowska and Cichon 2005).
In our study, egg size was found to dier from that
reported in other studies. In the present study, eggs
were slightly larger than those in Annaba (northeast
Algeria) and in Western Mediterranean populations
(Makatsch 1974; Lahlah et al. 2006), and smaller than
in Central and Western European populations (Hund
and Prinzinger 1979; Cramp 1988), suggesting that it is
a clear geographical pattern. The House Martin in this
study shows no dierence in egg length, breadth, vol-
ume and weight between the broods in both years and
sites, and these results agree with those of numerous
other studies conducted in Europe (Bryant 1975; Hund
and Prinzinger 1979; Cramp 1988).
A proper nesting habitat for birds is the one
which is physically suitable (safe and inaccessible)
Table 2.Mean of the egg laying date (days) in the first and second broods of House Martins in 2013 and 2014 at both study sites. K–S
test: Two-sample Kolmogorov–Smirnov test.
Brood Guelma Hammam
2013 2014 K–S test 2013 2014 K–S test
First 5 May ± 11.72
(Nest = 76)
14 May ± 14.16
(Nest = 80)
Broods p < 0.0001 3 May ± 14.33
(Nest = 46)
13 May ± 16.47
(Nest = 33)
Broods p < 0.0001
Second 18 June ± 7.35
(Nest = 31)
17 June ± 8.63
(Nest = 8)
16 June ± 9.58
(Nest = 18)
15 June ± 7.04
(Nest = 9)
K–S test Years p = 0.07 Sites p = 0.47 Years p = 0.32
Table 3.Breeding parameters in the first and second broods of House Martins in 2013 and 2014 at both study sites, Algeria.
Guelma Hammam
2013 2014 Mann–Whitney U test 2013 2014 Mann–Whitney U test
Hatchlings Broods
First 3.23 ± 1.43 3.22 ± 1.24 Broods U = 1078, p < 0.0001 3.43 ± 1.45 2.69 ± 1.72 Broods U = 448,
p < 0.0001
Second 1.35 ± 1.25 2 ± 1.77 1.61 ± 1.46 0.88 ± 1.66
Mann–Whitney U test Years U = 3931, p = 0.04 Years U = 1077, p = 0.07
Sites U = 9893, p = 0.53
Fledglings First 3.14 ± 1.47 3.15 ± 1.23 Broods U = 988, p < 0.0001 3.43 ± 1.45 2.45 ± 1.71 Broods U = 423,
p < 0.0001
Second 0.96 ± 1.15 2 ± 1.77 1.33 ± 1.32 0.88 ± 1.66
Mann–Whitney U test Years U = 3776, p = 0.01 Years U = 1024, p = 0.03
Sites U = 9836, p = 0.48
Hatching success First 74.77% 75% 79% 68.99%
Second 48.83% 64% 55.76% 33.33%
Failed hatching First 25.22% 25% 21% 31%
Second 51.16% 36% 44.23% 66.66%
Fledging success First 72.64% 73.25% 79% 62.79%
Second 33.72% 64% 46.15% 33.33%
Chick mortality First 2.12% 1.74% 0% 6.20%
Second 17.44% 0% 9.61% 0%
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factors that possibly aect the egg-laying date is food
availability, which is largely predetermined by the tem-
perature as it conditions the appearance and activity
of insects (Perrins 1970; Elkins 1988). In Algeria, like in
Europe, House Martins have two broods per year (Hund
and Prinzinger 1979; Cramp 1988; Pajuelo, De Lope,
and Da Silva 1992; Górska 2001), and the harsh drought
period during the summer prevents the North African
populations of House Martins from producing more than
two broods per year, which is typical of other species of
Hirundinidae Hirundo rustica (Sakraoui et al. 2005).
Breeding success
In the course of the reproductive season, the num-
ber of hatchlings and fledglings declined. This trend
has been reported in many studies on House Martins
(Lahlah et al. 2006; Zhou et al. 2012), and on other
hirundine species such as the Barn swallow (Sakraoui
et al. 2005). In both years, the proportions of hatching
and fledging success in Guelma were slightly higher
than those in Hammam. The hatching and fledging
success in both years and at both sites were similar to
those in Annaba (Lahlah et al. 2006), but lower than
those reported from Central and South of Europe
(Balat 1974; Hund 1976; Pajuelo, De Lope, and Da
Silva 1992; De Lope et al. 1993), and England (Bryant
1975). The high geographic variation in hatching and
fledging success could be explained by differences in
food availability, as recorded in the Asian house martin
Delichon dasypus (Zhou et al. 2012) and the Barn swal
low (Sakraoui et al. 2005). The main cause of mortality
revealed in this study, similarly to that reported from
England (Bryant 1975) and North Africa (Lahlah et al.
2006), was hatching failure.
This study provides data on the breeding biology of
the House Martin in Algeria, which is considered to be
the southern edge of the species breeding range. It is
necessary to work out the local conservation plan for the
species. Considering the size of the populations studied,
future local and regional population estimations should
also include Guelma and Hammam Debagh as potential
Algerian breeding areas.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
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Clutch size and incubation
Several studies showed that in birds the clutch size varies
with years (Perrins 1970), the egg-laying date (e.g. Hill
1984), food availability (e.g. Boekelhdeide and Ainley
1989), female age (e.g. Desrochers and Magrath 1993),
and other factors. We found that the clutch size of the
rst brood was similar in both years and sites (4.32–4.30)
in Guelma, except in Hammam in 2014, when the clutch
size was lower (4.34–3.90). It was lower than that in
Annaba (4.7) (Lahlah et al. 2006), Spain (4.6) (DeLope
etal. 1993), and within the range of the Central European
populations (4.2–4.7) (Hund and Prinzinger 1979;
Rheinwald 1979), but higher than in England (Bryant
1975). However, the clutch size in the second brood in
both years and sites was smaller than that in the rst
brood. The same situation was observed in all popula-
tions studied in dierent parts of Europe and North Africa
(Bryant 1975; Cramp 1988; Pajuelo, De Lope, and Da Silva
1992; Lahlah et al. 2006). What is more, the clutch size
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ied and reported in literature (Bryant 1975; Hund and
Prinzinger 1979; Pikula and Beklova 1987; Cramp 1988;
Pajuelo, De Lope, and Da Silva 1992; Lahlah et al. 2006).
However, a decline in the clutch size of successive broods
recorded in this study was signicant. A decline in the
clutch size has also been reported in the House Martin
in North Africa (Lahlah et al. 2006), Asian House Martin
(Zhou et al. 2012), and other Hirundine and migrant spe-
cies (Zhao 1981; Dhondt, Kast, and Allen 2002; Sakraoui
et al. 2005). This trend is determined by a female’s condi-
tion, parasites, time of nesting (Moller 1990; Blums, Clark,
and Mednis 2002; Sockman, Sharp, and Schwabl 2006),
and other seasonal factors. At both sites, Guelma and
Hammam, incubation by both parents was 13.44±2.28
and 13.76±2.57days, respectively, and it was similar to
that reported in literature (Bryant 1975; Zhou et al. 2012;
Saygilli and Yığıt 2007).
We found that House Martins in Guelma and Hammam
start egg laying in March, and the rst egg was laid in
the second week of April in 2013 and in the third week
of April in 2014 at both sites. The mean egg laying date
in the rst brood in 2013 at both sites was observed one
week earlier than in 2014. Generally, the mean laying
dates for the rst and second brood during the two
years of study and at both sites were similar to those in
Annaba, Northeast Algeria (Lahlah et al. 2006). However,
they were earlier than the respective dates for popula-
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Prinzinger 1979), Poland (Górska 2001), and also North
Europe (Cramp 1988), but later than those in Spain (De
Lope et al. 1993). This dierence is probably caused by a
variation in climatic conditions from the extreme North
to the southern range of the species. Among numerous
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... After the first brood, the nests were revisited according to the criteria illustrated by MØLLER (1989) where a second brood is recorded as at least two newly layed eggs per nest after the completion of the first brood. In case of a single egg per nest, the second brood was discounted due to possible "egg-abandonment" (HAMLAOUI et al., 2016;HAMLAOUI, 2018). If a second brood is confirmed, the same monitoring protocol was followed. ...
Full-text available
The common house martin Delichon urbicum is a nesting migratory species in Algeria. In Guelma, it nests regularly in Hakim Okbi Hospital (an old building in the city center) with a colony of 352 nests. Monitoring the breeding biology of this passerine here showed that the species nests twice per year, in March-May and June-July. The characteristics of nests and eggs are similar to those recorded in other parts of the country. The number of eggs and their characteristics in the first brood are greater than the second (e.g. length was 19.48 mm in first brood then decreasing to 12.73 mm in the second). The weight and width were respectively 1.63 g and 17.98 mm in the first brood, versus 1.46 g and 12.15 mm in the second. A monitoring plan is imperative for this species in Algeria in order to sustain a dynamic population of martins.
... Indeed, birds cannot anticipate and prepare for a Fig. 4 Spatial variation of mean clutch size at the three climatic levels (humid, sub-humid, and semi-arid) of the Algerian common house martin (ArcGIS 10.5 Owner ESRI, Redlands, California, USA) regular reproductive period in such seasonally unpredictable habitats (Hau et al. 2004); they will start therefore egg laying opportunistically at any time during the breeding season. At the regional scale, our findings are consistent with the typical pattern shown by house martin in the other parts of the country: April 6th recorded by Lahlah et al. (2006), and April 18th by Hamlaoui et al. (2016). The overall laying dates were relatively advanced in comparison to more northerly regions, such as central and north Europe (Pikula and Beklova 1987;Kamiński and Wołosiuk 1995;Górska 2001), excepting the Town of Extremadura, West Spain where the first eggs were laid in March (Pajuelo et al. 1992;de Lope et al. 1993). ...
The Mediterranean climate of North Africa encompasses an interesting variety of sub-climates, from humid and sub-humid to semi-arid and arid. Such variability may provide vital insights into mechanisms that drive species distribution and offered us an ideal opportunity to test phenotypic variations along gradients. We aim in this study to investigate the breeding behaviour of house martin Delichon urbica (Linnaeus, 1758) populations along regional climatic gradients in north-eastern Algeria. During two consecutive breeding seasons (2016–2017), nine field sites (328 active nests) belonging to three different sub-climates: humid, sub-humid, and semi-arid were surveyed regularly from March to August. We used generalized linear models to test the relevance of local climate and several ecological variables on laying reproductive output. Laying dates were positively correlated with climate condition (GOF = 0.42), the semi-arid climate creating appropriate conditions for advancing the laying process, whereas sub-humid and humid climate delayed it. Clutch-size and number of chicks hatched per nest were affected by local climate conditions; they were greater in humid areas than in sub-humid and semi-arid ones. The other non-climatic variables as brood order, laying date, distance to fields, and distance to water were not significant. The spatial analysis around nest sites of house martins also showed that dense vegetation cover and reduced urbanization levels may be potential predictors of breeding behaviour. Nest sites located in humid areas with dense vegetation cover, and low urbanization levels that characterize the surrounding landscape provide high-breeding success rate to this species if compared to sub-humid and semi-arid areas. These findings can be a useful indicator of environmental change in a country that is already experiencing severe drought stresses, uncontrolled urbanization, and high deforestation rates.
... La première est signalée sur presque tout le territoire algérien, et la deuxième est très fréquente sur le littoral, sur l'Atlas et sur les Hauts plateaux (DAOUDI-HACINI, 2004). Elles sont très anthropophiles ROUAIGUIA et al., 2015 ;HADDAD et al., 2015 ;HAMLAOUI et al., 2016). ...
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The Window Swallow Delichon urbica, and the Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica, are strictly insectivorous. The swallow diet was studied based on droppings analysis. Dropping collections were carried out under nests installed on house walls of the Mouldi Achouri colony of the city of Tebessa, between March to September 2016. In total, 56 droppings were recovered randomly. Prey identification was based on chitinous fragments found in the excrement, such as cephalic capsules, thorax, elytra, femur, tibias and mandibles. Analysis of the diet of Delichon urbica showed that it included insects of the following eight orders of in decreasing order of importance: Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, Dermaptera, Homoptera, Orthoptera, Heteroptera and Lepidoptera. Analysis of the diet of Hirundo rustica showed that it includes the following nine orders of insects in decreasing order of importance: Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Dermaptera, Diptera, Heteroptera, Orthoptera, Homoptera, Odanoptera, and Lepidoptera.
Till now, the breeding biology of several North African bird populations has been little studied, particularly that of the southern populations of Iberian chiffchaff Phylloscopus ibericus. In the present study, total of 31 nests of Iberian chiffchaff were monitored in the northeastern Algeria during 2013–2017. The nesting period, clutch and brood sizes, and reproductive success of the species were determined. The first egg-laying dates of the first broods were spread over the first twenty days of April. There were significant among-year variations in nesting seasons. The Iberian chiffchaff clutch sizes averaged 4.51 eggs. The number of hatchlings and fledglings averaged 4.09 and 3.54 nestlings, respectively. There is no correlation between the nest height above the ground and the hatching and the breeding success of the species. Predation and nest abandonment were the main causes of the breeding failure of the Iberian chiffchaff in studied population, however, in general the breeding success was high – 80.7%. Breeding data for the Iberian chiffchaff at the southern edge of its breeding range in North Africa show smaller clutches and production of fewer young compared to the common chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita in Europe.
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Cette nouvelle livraison de nos ‘Eléments de bibliographie ornithologique marocaine’ regroupe une sélection d’articles traitant de l’avifaune du Maroc. Parmi ceux-ci, nous avons distingué, comme dans les livraisons précédentes, ceux traitant spécifiquement de ce pays de ceux de portée plus générale mais concernant aussi le Maroc. Un résumé informatif suit certains d’entre eux, en particulier lorsque le titre n’exprime pas de façon évidente le lien avec le Maroc. Un troisième paragraphe présente une sélection de travaux récents relatifs à d’autres pays proches (Espagne et Iles Canaries, Portugal, Libye, Tunisie, Algérie et Mauritanie en particulier), en lien direct avec l’avifaune marocaine.
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Monitoring of the northern house-martin in northeastern Algeria recorded the first observation of this species in early February, whereas the greatest movements occurred around the beginning of March. Breeding activity of the northern house-martin usually started one month after their return from migration, apparently triggered by the availability of food resources. Our study on the feeding frequency to nestlings showed that although feeding visits were important in early nestling rearing, the highest values were recorded at the ages of 6-10 days. The number of prey brought to chicks was highest during May and lowest during August. Analysis of the diet of chicks revealed that it was composed mainly of 48 families representing eight orders of insects, with significant dominance of Homoptera throughout the breeding season.
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The migration and some bio-ecological characteristics of a house martin (Delichon urbica) population, which has established colonies under bridges over the Kızılırmak River near Köprüköy village (Kırıkkale), were investigated in 2003 and 2004. These house martins were observed from the beginning of April to the first week of September, when they migrated south. According to the specimens examined, mean measurements of total length, wingspan, and weight were recorded as 133.5 mm, 279.5 mm, and 15.5 g, respectively. Mean measurements and weights of the nests were 12.5 mm long × 9 mm wide × 6 mm high, and 425 g. The first clutch was observed in May, the first offspring appeared during the first week of June, and litter size varied from 1 to 4. The mean weight of eggs was 1.6 g; the total body length and weight of a hatchling were 6 mm and 0.83 g. It was also found that the house martin had a maximum of 2 clutches during the breeding season.
The frequency of nest reuse and the costs and benefits of this behavior were investigated in a population of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) at Delta Marsh, Manitoba, during 1984-1986. Slightly less than half the clutches were laid in old nests, and this proportion did not change seasonally except in one late year when old nests were preferred by late-nesting pairs. The delay between nest and clutch initiation was greater for new vs. old nests, but only significantly so in June and July. Parasites (hematophagous mites) were common in old nests that had been used the previous year and significantly reduced chick survival. Swallows appeared to be able to assess parasite load and selected unparasitized old nests for the first nesting attempt. Nest instability did not appear to be a cost of nest reuse. The mean reproductive success per pair was equal for swallows using old vs. new nests, suggesting that birds can assess the costs and benefits of particular nests and nest sites. Nest reuse was, however, considerably less frequent than in other studies, presumably because the costs and benefits of this behavior vary geographically. In particular, the breeding season at Delta Marsh is extended, and the time delay caused by building a new nest is therefore less important than elsewhere. More birds have the option of avoiding the parasite costs of nest reuse while still successfully rearing two broods. Thus, individuals apparently maximize their reproductive success by adjusting their nesting strategy to account for the local costs and benefits of the two nesting options.
Predation was the major cause of total nest failure. Predation rates on nests in natural holes were higher than in nest-boxes for great tit Parus major and pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, while no significant difference was found for blue tit P. caeruleus and marsh tit P. palustris. In tits, woodpeckers were responsible for 17% of predation on nests in natural cavities but for 48% on nests in boxes. Of nests that were preyed upon, woodpeckers destroyed a lower proportion of those of great than of those of blue tit and marsh tit. Minimum nest entrance widths were correlated with the size of the species. Depths of nesting holes were generally similar for different species, but blue tit occupied shallower holes than did great tit. Starling Sturnus vulgaris, nuthatch Sitta europaea, and blue tit occupied holes higher up in the trees than did great tit and pied flycatcher. Marsh tits nested very low. Total rates of nest failure and predation were greater in low nests than in higher ones for starling, blue tit, and marsh tit. All 4 species that vary their nest heights in relation to density prefer to nest high. This indicates that there is competition for safe nest sites. Starling reduced the breeding success of nuthatch by taking over holes occupied by the latter. -from Author
We examined the constraints on double brooding in Hooded Warblers (Wilsonia citrina) to explain why 56% of females with successful first nests did not attempt second broods. Double brooded females fledged on average 1.9 more young than single brooded females. Double brooded females nested significantly earlier than single brooded females, but many females with early nests did not double brood. There were no significant differences among single and double brooded females in age, experience, body condition, or reproductive output at their first nest. Female breeding strategy did not depend on male age or male feeding effort at the first nest. Double brooded individuals were usually feeding fledglings while undergoing their pre-basic molt, and the main cost of being double brooded was a three week delay in molt compared with single brooded birds. This delay in molt could impose a high energetic cost due to the overlap of molt and fledgling care, and a time cost in terms of delaying migration and the acquisition of a winter territory.
Studies were carried out in 23 rural sample plots in NW Poland in 1985–1995 (total study area —5 117 km2, including 635 villages and other settlements). The density of the breeding population in the overall landscape varied between 2.2 and 16.2 nests/km2, and in built-up areas from 207 to 1303 nests/km2. In the first brood, begun in mid-May, the average clutch was 3.99 eggs; 47% of clutches contained 4 eggs, 23% – 3 eggs and 21% – 5 eggs. In the second brood the average clutch was 3.61 eggs. Clutches of 4 and 3 eggs accounted for 49% and 26% respectively of the total number of clutches. 49% of pairs from the first broods were also involved in second ones. Hatching success (number of young hatched compared with the number of eggs laid) was 94.3% in the first brood and 95.8% in the second. Fledging success (number of young fledged compared to the number hatched) was 97.5% and 95.1% respectively and final breeding success (number of fledglings compared to the number of eggs laid) was 91.9% and 91.2%. A statistical pair produced 5.3 young per breeding season.