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Conservation status: Green

Sand martins are the smallest European hirundines (martins and swallows), with dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with otherwise pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Agile fliers, feeding mainly over water, they will perch on overhead wires or branches. They are gregarious in the breeding season and winter. Over the past 50 years the European population has crashed on two occasions as a result of drought in the birds' African wintering grounds.



Latin name

Riparia riparia


Swallows and martins (Hirundinidae)

Where to see them

Found along rivers and other water bodies throughout the UK. Also found around man-made gravel pits where artificial nesting banks are sometimes provided.

When to see them

March to October

What they eat

Invertebrates, taken on the wing.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-54,000-174,000 nests--




Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

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