Forum home Wildlife gardening

House Martins

When the house martins returned in the spring, there were noticeably fewer of them, presumably suffering from the dire winter weather.  Although nests under the eaves of neighbouring houses were occupied, none of ours had them take up residence.
Now they are clearly preparing to migrate.  There are lots and lots of them so I have to assume that the breeding season has been good, and made up for winter casualties.
What I am noticing is that there is a lot of flying in and out of all the nests, rather like they are laying claim to a home for next spring.  
Do they normally do this?  I can't say I've noticed it before - but there's a lot of excitement and dive-bombing all the nests and some seem to sit inside and repel boarders!
Interesting behaviour - perhaps the youngsters marking future territory?  Or imprinting for future reference where "home" will be next year.


  • David WDavid W Posts: 84
    Ours turned up as normal and had to rebuild their nest which had fallen off the eaves over winter, in the area there were fewer. Once rebuilt we were into the very warm weather and they disappeared for weeks, so long we thought we weren’t going to see them again. They turned back up a few weeks ago and laid their eggs then, so we have a very late first brood of chicks in the nest no where near ready to fledge let alone being anywhere near migrating. The chicks do sound healthy though when being fed.

    We have seen, in normal years, lots of dive bombing nests, quite fun to watch.

    Although the nests are often occupied year after tear it’s not always by the same two birds so they could well be scouting for nests for the next year. 

    According to the RSPB males return to the same or near to the same colony, females return to within a few in away.

  • pr1mr0sepr1mr0se Posts: 1,160
    Thanks for that David.  I did wonder if there were some very late broods, but the behaviour is more random than that!  I shall miss them when they fly away, though.

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 7,562
    I've seen them do this before migrating. I've no idea why they do it but it seems like the parent birds showing the young birds how to look for nest sites or maybe young birds just practicing skills like holding onto walls. I took this photo a couple of years ago of them doing it in a place where no birds have ever nested so I don't think it's necessarily to do with setting specific nest sites in mind. They hung on there preening and coming back and forth for a while though. Look in the window and you can see this was driving my neighbour's cat crazy.

    A great library has something in it to offend everybody.
  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 2,003
    Great pic @wild edges poor cat must have been tormented, so close yet so far!
  • pr1mr0sepr1mr0se Posts: 1,160
    First spot of house martins today!  Very early for us - usually seen third or fourth week of April.  I assume the warm weather has attracted them.
    We've only seen a couple so far, so we have to assume that they are the advance guard, and we expect to see lots of them shortly.  
    Spring has truly sprung and summer is (shortly) icumin in!
Sign In or Register to comment.