house martins 2019

Having been outside this morning and am confident there are still two definitely active nests, I've decided to do another thread about the house martin colony on the back of this house. There are two artificial nests on the side as well, but only one has ever been used. Successfully fledged one brood about 3 years ago. Failed the next year as a magpie jumped up from the garage roof just below it and caught a nesting adult. Not been used since.

Anyway, this year, nest 1 from last year (two broods) has incubating adult. (1st photo). What was nest 4 last year is being rebuilt.....very slowly. I noticed when I took the photo, some rubbish has been added. Unclear as to whether a sparrow has been in and staked its claim, or it was collected with a bit of mud. Nest 2 and 3 from last year are both half built/half demolised. Both have had mud added, but nest 3 in particular is regularly getting invaded by the sparrows and I notice rubbish has been added to the side of that as well now. Nest 5 was completely destroyed over Winter. That already had damage towards the end of fledging last year. Nest 6 has a few fragments following last year's couple of collapses. It gets visited but no nest building so far. However, what I'll now label nest 7 has incubating adult. Nest 7 used to be one of the most successful nests but I am guessing because of its location next to a sparrow nest, it has been ignored for the last couple of years, until now. Nest 8 has a hole that wasn't there a month ago. There weren't any eggs I'm sure, but it has been visited quite a bit.

  • As mentioned, this first photo is nest 1 and has eggs judging by behaviour. I think they're very close to hatching. Nearest the window is nest 4. As you can see, some vegetation is dangling down which hints at a sparrow trying to take over. The reconstruction seems to be taking a long time.
  • The next two photos are what I'm labelling as nest 2 and 3. The furthest artificial nest has never been used (although it did have a huge spider in it for a year or two). The nearest nest fledged several broods of house sparrows and has been used by them again this year. It definitely had newly hatched chicks a month or more ago as I heard them. However, nothing fledged for some reason. They are still defending it and don't mind crashing through the dangling bits which I put up in Winter.

  • ...and what I'm calling nest 7 and 8. 7 has eggs. The swift box has sparrows....

  • Thanks for the new 2019 thread Rob, good to hear there are at least two active nests and maybe interest in No.8; I do hope the HM's manage to have success despite the HS's trying to take over again. Look forward to the updates with interest.

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Just found this thread, will follow with interest and enjoyment.
  • I hope there will be enjoyment as it can be very frustrating based on previous years. This year there are even more sparrows about.

    This morning there was more mud being added to nests 2,3 and 4.
  • Sounds like the house sparrows may have the upper hand again sadly but will keep fingers crossed and hope the Martins can raise a brood or two.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Sorry Hazy. I probably didn't word my last post very well. Either that or you've learned I don't normally put positive spin on things!

    The second line, re mud being added, was me trying to be upbeat and offset the prev sentence. Only martins add mud, and they are continuing today on 3 nests. 2,3 and 4. The latter is getting close to being finished. What I have noticed today is an individual has again visited the concrete nest that has never been used while I have lived here. It doesn't go in though. Just perched on the edge and looked in several times. Would be good if it is used as I can't see a sparrow getting through that entrance.

    There was fighting inside nest 7. Unclear who won, but the departing martin was dangling out, being held/bitten as it was trying to escape. Seen martin feathers being dropped out but no eggs, so hopefully it was defended successfully.

  • Oh, thanks for the update Rob, sorry I misunderstood but good to hear the martins seem to be nesting and hope they have a successful breeding season. The mud reminds me of the Nuthatches that narrow their entrance with same materials. We have two pairs of Nuthatches which seem to thrive here with so many oak trees. This year I have never seen such a good rate of young fledglings, mainly tit species but one Nuthatch brood; we are yet to welcome the Corvid mafia when we eventually get Jackdaws, Crows, Magpies and Jay offspring !! I think we have had 7 GT/BT broods so far (at least 4 nested in the garden, either boxes provided or hole in oak tree trunk) and all you can hear up in the tall oak trees are fledglings calling out to be fed. After not seeing a sparrowhawk for months a male zipped through yesterday but without success. Was a mixed feeling of sadness for the sparrowhawk but relief that all the young birds survived that I could tell. Wish we got Martins like at our previous house when they nested under the overhang (eaves); don't even get sparrows or starlings here.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  •  A quick update from today. First photo is of nest 1 and nest 4. The latter is now finished. It is of a similar 'no entrance' design to last year! Wonder if it's the same adult(s) who repaired it from last year. Disappointingly, no sign yet of egg shells under nest 1, but based on behaviour I think both these nests have eggs. You can see the back end of a martin in nest 1. I am wondering if it's inspecting an egg as it took a while to fully get in the nest.

    Next photo is of what I will call nest A.....I don't believe for one minute it will result in fledged young, but I'll keep track of it. No idea what was wrong with the unoccupied artificial nests.

    Next photo is of concrete nest (let's call it nest C as like all other years, I don't think anything will result in fledged chicks from here, despite more interest this year), nest 2 (still not finished), nest 3 (now finished and possibly just started incubating) and the sparrow nest in the artificial nest next to it.  Nest 3 has had to have reinforcement threads added as the house sparrows were aggressively attacking the martins as they were rebuilding it. Surprised the martins kept going. The sparrows can and do still attack but appear to find it only possible if the attack starts from their own nest entrance. i.e. they need to be waiting or leaving at the same time as the martin to actually get at it.