Breeding ecology of House Martins (Delichon urbica) in Northeast Algeria

Hamlaoui, B., Rouaiguia, M., Zebsa, R., Kafi, F., Haddad, S., Lahlah, N. & Houhamdi, M. (2016). On the breeding ecology of House Martins Delichon urbica (Linnaeus 1758) in Northeast Algeria. Zoology and Ecology 26: 77–84.  doi: 10.1080/21658005.2016.1149350


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.


Feeding behaviour and the role of insects in the diet of House Martin nestlings in Northeastern Algeria

Rouaiguia, M., Lahlah, N., Bensaci, E. & Houhamdi, M. (2015). Feeding behaviour and the role of insects in the diet of Northern House-Martin (Delichon urbica meridionalis) nestlings in Northeastern Algeria. African Entomology 23(2): 329–341.  doi: 10.4001/003.023.0228
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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.

North-African house martins endure greater haemosporidian infection than their European counterparts

Van Rooyen, J., Jenkins, T., Lahlah, N., & Christe, P. (2014). North-African house martins endure greater haemosporidian infection than their European counterparts. Journal of Avian Biology 45(5): 450–456. doi:10.1111/jav.00408


Afro-Palearctic migrant species are exposed to parasites at both breeding and over-wintering grounds. The house martin Delichon urbicum is one such migratory species facing high instances of blood parasite infection. In an attempt to determine whether breeding European house martins harbour similar blood parasite communities to populations breeding in North Africa, birds were sampled at their breeding grounds in Switzerland and Algeria. Moreover, haemosporidian prevalence and parasite communities were compared to published data sets on Spanish and Dutch breeding populations. This study furthermore wanted to establish whether co-infection with multiple genera or lineages of parasites had negative effects on host body condition. Breeding house martins caught in Algeria showed a higher prevalence of avian haemosporidian parasites than did European populations. Swiss house martins showed a prevalence comparable to that of Spanish and Dutch populations. There were slight differences in the haemosporidian community between European and North-African populations in terms of composition and abundance of each lineage. Similar to the Dutch house martins, but in contrast to the Spanish population, infection status and number of genera of parasites infecting single hosts did not influence Swiss house martin body condition.

Diet and prey choice by the House Martin in Kabylia, Algeria

Boukhemza-Zemmouri, N., Farhi, Y., Mohamed Sahnoun, A., & Boukhemza, M. (2013). Diet composition and prey choice by the House Martin Delichon urbica (Aves: Hirundinidae) during the breeding period in Kabylia, Algeria. Italian Journal of Zoology, 80 (1): 117–124. doi:10.1080/11250003.2012.733138


The diet of a colony of the House Martin Delichon urbica (Linnaeus, 1758), a breeding migratory species in Algeria, was studied from March to July 2004 in the city of Tizi Ouzou, Kabylia region, east of Algiers. It was mainly based on insects, which represented 99.6% of the 3746 food items recovered from 50 faeces. Most preys were winged insects. 178 taxa were identified at different levels, from order to species. Arachnida and Gastropoda were only occasionally captured and hence slightly represented. Hymenoptera dominated (77.6% of individual insects, 97.04% being ants), followed by Coleoptera (15.65%) and Heteroptera (4.99%). Other orders were few in terms of prey. They seemed to be captured only when the House Martin got an opportunity to do so. This study showed monthly variations among the species consumed, indicating a high level of plasticity in the diet. These variations correspond to the local availability and phenology of prey. Most preys are mainly small-sized. The preys of size estimated between 2 and 5 mm found in the fecal bags reflect that of Formicidae consumed by Delichon urbica such as Tetramorium biskrensis, Monomorium salomonis, Tapinoma nigerimum and Plagiolepis barbara. In Kabylia, as elsewhere, the House Martin appears to be an opportunist feeder which, when preys are abundant, selects those that best fit their nutritional requirements, but which can use others and becomes more eclectic when food becomes scarce.

House Martin Delichon urbica

House Martin Delichon urbica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)