Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Day 205 - Happily Mischevous House Martins

Hi all today's Day 205 and before I start, I want to thank BBC Radio York for a fantastic opportunity today as I was able to go to an interview about my blog and my love of nature. You can listen to it here: Skip to 2:14:30 to listen to my interview only until Day 234!

House Martin (Delichon urbicum) starting on it's nest
Anyway, on with today's post. I have recently been to Northumberland on holiday and some migrants have been coming in there recently. Flying migrants from Africa! You'll probably know already what I am talking about and you're probably thinking about Swallows. Well, I've already done 'em. So today's post is about House Martins.

So, here are the facts:

  • They Summer in most of the UK apart from Northern Scotland, Lough Neagh and Lough Foyle which are both lakes in Ireland.
This one's about halfway through building
  • There are 510,000 breeding pairs in the UK. Even so, they are an Amber Status bird because since the 1996-2001 status assessment when they were a Green Status bird their population has been in decline.
  • The decline is rapid and is concerning to organisations like the BTO who are doing a 2 year survey on House Martins. This will help to record their numbers and find out more about them as it seems we don't know that much about them.
And this one looks finished
  • They are found in all habitats including bogs, marshes and coastal areas where they occur the least,  They are found the most in villages.
  • This is most probably because they nest in the little nooks and crannies in buildings. You can see this from the picture that they have nested in somebody's window frame in some cottages right on the seafront.
Whizzing down...
  • Still on the subject of nests, they do really do put a lot of effort in. When we got there, we saw a Martin starting to build its nest. 20 minutes later, when we'd finished photographing, he'd made quite a lot of progress going backwards and forwards lots of times fetching the mud to build with.
Swooping in...
  • They have a length of 15cm and a wingspan of 28cm. Both Male and Female birds weigh 19g and the egg weighs just 1.8g!
  • As you'll definitely know by now I have started to put in a new fact about ring size. In the case of the House Martin, it's A, the second smallest after AA.
  • They have a typical lifespan of 2 years but the oldest ever multiplied this by 3 and a half with 7 years, 1 month and 12 days.
  • They arrive here from Africa, south of the Sahara. It's a long way to come but it seems worth it as House Martins will raise two and sometimes three broods a year in the UK. They can still have young in the nest as late as September and sometimes October.

..and up to the nest
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Lovely, lovely photos here Zach! House Martins are such sweet birds. - Tasha

  2. I was in Craster one day last week, looking for kippers. Probably saw those very same house martins - brilliant birds but one we don't know an awful lot about once they leave our villages in the autumn

    Keep up the good work