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Mascarene martin

The Mascarene martin is a passerine bird in the swallow family that breeds in Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. The nominate subspecies occurs on Mauritius and Réunion and has never been found away from the Mascarene Islands, but a smaller Madagascan subspecies is migratory and has been recorded wintering in East Africa or wandering to other Indian Ocean islands. The Mascarene martin is small with grey-brown underparts becoming white on the throat and lower abdomen, dark grey-brown upperparts and a slightly forked tail. The underparts are heavily streaked with black. It nests in small colonies anywhere with suitably sheltered sites for constructing a nest. It has a heavy flight with slow wingbeats interspersed with glides, and frequently perches on wires. It feeds on insects in flight, often hunting low over the ground or vegetation. A number of internal and external parasites have been detected in this species. Tropical cyclones can adversely affect populations on the smaller islands, but the Mascarene martin is a locally common bird with an apparently stable population and is classed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. (Full article...)

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