Martin Identification

To: "Birding Aus" <>, "Bob Forsyth" <>
Subject: Martin Identification
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 11:55:37 +1000

Hi Bob


Like you say, if you don’t get to see the crown, I don’t think there’s any definitive rule one can use for separating Tree and Fairy Martins.


The Fairy Martin’s familiar short churring call is unique though – the Tree Martin doesn’t have it. That’s reliable.


For what it’s worth, when I look at them I find the Fairy Martin to be a cleaner looking bird with a whiter rump, and a little finer too - the Tree Martin is just that bit chunkier. There is nothing like the experience of seeing the two species together to test this sort of thing out. If you can apply this sort of thing repeatedly, you’ll find it will either work for you, or it won’t.


Different styles of id do work for different people when you get into these somewhat subjective areas.


There might be people out there who can talk about the difference in the blues – but I can’t.


Please tell me how you get on.


All the best


Bill Jolly



Lockyer Valley, Queensland.


Visit our website at



Ph: (+61) 7 4697 6111  Fax: (+61) 7 4697 6056




-----Original Message-----
From: [On Behalf Of Bob Forsyth
Sent: Tuesday, 27 March 2001 11:35 AM
To: Messages Birding-aus
Subject: [BIRDING-AUS] Martin Identification


g'day all,


I would appreciate any clues how to identify Tree M's from Fairy M's when they are on the wing.


I find it virtually impossible to keep my binoc's focused on the head of a flying bird,....and it is often a long time before they land.


I have seen both species flying together. At the sewage ponds when they do rest up they will select different powerlines but out bush they  settle as a mixed group.

At rest,  I have no problem identifying the head markings


Our local birds when flying never look as different as illustrated in the field guides.


Regards, Bob Forsyth, Mount Isa, NW Qld.




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