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African River-martin Pseudochelidon eurystomina
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Data Deficient because, although it is recorded quite regularly, its distribution and movements remain very poorly known and very few colonies have ever been found. Colonies are very vulnerable to disturbance and exploitation, and the species may prove to be threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Pseudochelidon eurystomina breeds in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (middle and upper Congo River and lower Ubangi River) (Chapin 1953), Gabon (Gamba [Keith et al. 1992], Animba near Port-Gentil and, recently discovered, near Libreville itself; also potentially throughout the coastal areas south of Point Pongara, as far as the border with the Congo( [P. Christy in litt. 1999]) and Congo (several hundred birds discovered in 1996 in the Conkouati Reserve) (Dowsett-Lemaire 1997a, Maisels and Cruickshank 2000). The total population size is unknown; in the late 1980s, it appeared to be common, if local, and large numbers have been seen on migration in Gabon (Turner and Rose 1989), such as the Ogooué River and Makokou where, in 1997, a flock of c.15,000 were observed (Sinclair 1998), and a mixed flock of this species and Rosy Bee-eater Merops malimbicus at Igeula, Loango, in September 2005, was estimated to number 100,000 birds (Barnes 2005). However it is particularly poorly known in the DRC and it is not known if there is any relationship between the birds breeding in the DRC and those breeding in coastal areas of Gabon and Congo (P. Christy in litt. 1999). Birds from the Congo migrate westwards across Gabon (main passage from June to early September) (Erard 1981), arriving at Gamba on the coast from mid-August onwards and on the coast of the Congo from mid-September (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1991). After breeding in the coastal areas, they depart from late October-November (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1991) with the main passage back across Gabon from December to March (Erard 1981). At Odzala in northern Congo, birds have been observed flying west towards coastal breeding grounds in August, returning in late January, but the numbers involved are much lower than those observed in Gabon (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997). In 1994, three or four birds were observed on passage at Ngotto in the Central African Republic (Dowsett et al. 1999b).

Population justification
This is a poorly known species and no population estimates are available.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to hunting pressure and potentially losses to flooding (del Hoyo et al. 2004).

It breeds in large colonies (up to c.800 individuals) along forested rivers, on islands with sandy shores and on beach ridges in coastal savanna (Turner and Rose 1989). Nest holes are dug into sandbars which are exposed when river levels are low (Turner and Rose 1989). Outside the breeding season it roosts in reed-beds or riverine vegetation (P. Christy in litt. 1999).

In the 1950s, the species was caught and eaten in large quantities in the DRC by the local population (Chapin 1953), and this practice could be on the increase (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997). Breeding colonies in river sandbars are liable to flooding (Keith et al. 1992), the incidence of flooding could increase with trends in deforestation.

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys, particularly in D.R. Congo, to determine true range and abundance. Regularly monitor the species at known migration sites in Gabon to determine trends. Research the extent and nature of the threat caused by hunting. Protect large areas of forest at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community led multiple use areas.

Barnes, K. 2005. Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe. Gulf of Guinea island endemics and Lower Guinea rainforest rarities, 22 August - 11 September 2005.

Chapin, J. P. 1953. Birds of the Belgian Congo. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 75A, Part 3.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2004. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1997. The avifauna of the Léfini Reserve, Téké Plateau, (Congo). In: Dowsett, R.J.; Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (ed.), Flore et faune du Parc National d'Odzala, Congo, pp. 125-134. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1991. The avifauna of the Kouilou basin in Congo. In: Dowsett, R.J.; Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (ed.), Flore et faune du bassin du Kouilou (Congo) et leur exploitation, pp. 189-239. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Dowsett, R. J.; Christy, P.; Germain, M. 1999. Additions and corrections to the avifauna of Central African Republic. Malimbus 21: 1-15.

Erard, C. 1981. Sur les migrations de Pseudochelidon eurystomina Hartlaub au Gabon. L'Oiseau et la Revue Française d'Ornithologie 51: 244-246.

Keith, S.; Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H. 1992. The birds of Africa vol. IV. Academic Press, London.

Maisels, F.; Cruickshank, A. 2000. New breeding records of African River Martin Pseudochelidon eurystomina and Rosy Bee-eater Merops malimbicus in Conkouati Reserve, Republic of Congo. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 7(1): 48-49.

Sinclair. 1998. Gabon, Sa1o Tomé and Príncipe. Sunbird: 1-4.

Turner, A.; Rose, C. 1989. Swallows and martins of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Symes, A.

Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Maisels, F.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pseudochelidon eurystomina. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - African river-martin (Pseudochelidon eurystomina) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Data Deficient
Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and martins)
Species name author Hartlaub, 1861
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 174,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change