The Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) is a migratory passerine bird in the swallow family. It has a wide range in summer, embracing practically the whole of Europe and the Mediterranean countries, part of northern Asia and also North America.
The 12 cm long Sand Martin is brown above, white below with a narrow brown band on the breast; the bill is black, the legs brown. The young have rufous tips to the coverts and margins to the secondaries.
Its brown back, white throat, small size and quick jerky flight separate it at once from similar swallows, such as the House Martin (Delichon urbicum), the Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) or other species of Riparia.
The Pale Martin is the subspecies diluta of northern India and southeastern China is sometimes split as a separate species Riparia diluta. It has paler grey-brown upperparts and a less distinct breast band. It winters in Pakistan and southern India.
The Sand Martin’s twittering song is continuous when the birds are on the wing, and becomes a conversational undertone after they have settled in the roost. The harsh alarm is heard when a passing falcon, crow or other suspected predator requires combined action to drive it away.
The food consists of small insects, mostly gnats and other flies whose early stages are aquatic.