Phedina borbonica (Mascarene martin) 

Gestreepte kransswael [Afrikaans]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Mascarenenzwaluw [Dutch]; Hirondelle des Mascareignes [French]; Maskarenenschwalbe [German]; Andorinha das Mascarenhas [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes  > Family: Hirundinidae

Phedina borbonica (Mascarene martin)  

Mascerene martin, Mauritius. [photo Geoff Smith ©]


Distribution and habitat

It has two separate subspecies - one is sedentary and occurs in Mauritius and Réunion, and the other is migratory, breeding in Madagascar before flying to the central African coast. It is not known where its non-breeding grounds are exactly as there are few records of it from mainland Africa, with sightings from Kenya, Pemba Island, Malawi (in 1944 hundreds were recorded), South Africa (specifically Crooke's Corner, Kruger National Park from 2002) and central Mozambique. Here it appeared in large numbers in  from June-July 1968 but hasn't been seen since in this country. Most southern African records were from clearings in logged coastal Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland.

Distribution of Mascerene martin in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Movements and migrations

Non-breeding visitor to mainland Africa, with almost all records from June-August.


It eats insects, often joining mixed species foraging flocks.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.


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