A swift-flying insectivorous songbird of the swallow family, typically having a less strongly forked tail than a swallow.
Family Hirundinidae: several genera and numerous species, e.g., the purple martin‘In flight, European Starlings can be confused with Purple Martins, but the narrower wings, forked tails, and typical swallow flight of martins distinguish the two.’
- ‘The eaves and thatch of the houses would have supplied nesting sites for many birds such as wrens, swallows and martins, and also for bats in the older less well tended buildings.’
- ‘House martins breed over a vast area of the Palearctic region from the Atlantic towards the Pacific and as far north as arctic Scandinavia.’
- ‘Particularly special is the pine martin, a member of the weasel family about the size of a house cat and found only in a few northern regions in the United States.’
- ‘Both bats and martins, it turns out, prefer larger insects such as beetles, moths, flies, wasps and bees, which give a better return on their energy efforts.’
Late Middle English probably a shortening of obsolete martinet, from French, probably from St Martin of Tours, celebrated at Martinmas.