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House Martins nesting

We are lucky enough to have had housemartins nesting on our house for many years. More recently the number of nests has dwindled down from 17 nests to 6 or 7.

A lot of this seems due to the lack of mud for nest repair and rebuilding, it's been very dry and there is no mud nearby. We tried some man-made ones which have some success, but the birds clearly prefer self-builds!

This year arrivals were very late again, but we have up to 20 birds swooping round the house anxious to breed

In desperation, as there is no mud, we have run a hose on the track to our property to soak a small area, and within a few minutes a flurry of excited birds started mud gathering. Great!

But, with no sign of rain in the next few days, and having given them a start, I now feel duty bound to keep watering every half-hour so they can continue their work.

Does anyone have an ideas to help and make the process easier???

I cannot really create a pond or wet area in my garden, so it needs to be on the public track.


p.s. we have also seen buzzards, red kite, marsh harrier and the other day, a hen harrier so far this year

  • Sounds as if you are in a lovely bird habitat ... could you not leave a hose with holes in so that the water constantly seeps out?


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Thank you Wendy,

    Yes we are very fortunate. That may be possible, will investigate!

    The track to our house is very dry and hard, and so yesterday we collected some soil from nearby mole hills, and soaked it in a large plant pot base. We put the mud out on the track and within seconds there was a lot of inspection by the martins. Within minutes a crowd of them were gathering mud.

    We were ferrying mud and water out all day, and the martins response is fantastic to watch.

    We now have 2 nest which have been repaired, and a further 5 under construction. At times there are between 10 and 15 birds all collecting mud.

    We are now duty bound to continue collecting earth, soaking it, ferrying it out to the track and regularly watering it as the sun dries it.

    Lets hope for rain soon!
  • After 3 days of frantic nest building from my little mud puddle, the colder weather arrived and work ceased. Then a magpie raided and 3 nests were damaged. This morning with a little sun and warmth, albeit temporary, the builders are hard at work again.
    Life is a struggle!!
  • Yes, there are fairly accessible even though they are in the usual position.

    We have persevered with our mud puddle and it has proved very successful. We now have a total of 13 nests either built or in the final stages. We also have a few more birds 'surveying'.

    They seem to watch me 'top it up' either with mud or just watering the existing heap, and instantly appear in an excited frenzy from nowhere.
    It's extremely rewarding to watch, especially in these dark times.....!
  • We get very few sparrows these days, but do have one pair in our pantiles.

    (Sorry about the blurry photos, they don't stay still for very long!
  • Quick update:

    In addition to our 3 man made nests we now have 12 nests built/repaired by the martins, and we continue to provide our little mud puddle for them.
    Sadly every morning we come down to find one or two have been raided in the early hours. Most attempt to rebuild straight away if the weather allows. We haven't identified the culprit yet.
    I have nothing but admiration for the tenacity and commitment of these little birds, but it looks like its going to be a very bad year for them here.
  • Thanks for your feedback. We have had a couple of fledgings and have 5 or 6 on eggs (we think). time is running short for a second brood but the early ones may try.

    As much as we hate the artificial nests they have provided a safe haven and hopefully encouraged the later arrivals to join our little colony.