House Martins

  • Hurrah! We were away up Nether Wasdale this weekend. When we returned today (Sunday 12th) our House martins have returned. I watched them swooping in and out of four of the nests so that is at least 8 birds returned (it looked more but time will tell how many nest here) about a month later than usual plus the pair who returned on time.

    I have not had a chance to walk about our area so cannot comment on local house martin numbers elsewhere or swallows and swifts. I am so chuffed about the house martins. I can now look forward to summer, hearing their chatter each day, finding little white eggs on our path and watching the newly fledged birds emerge. It would have been awful without them.
  • We were on holiday in S W Scotland last week and House Martins seemed to arrive on the same weekend as us. By the middle of the week they were patching up the old nests on the cottage we were using. According to the owners the numbers were much lower than normal and about two weeks late, We were only over the Solway Firth from you Firecrest so conditions may be similar.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • Congratulations Firecrest. Very happy for you.
  • Thanks Dave......obviously you had a word and they listened.
    They have been flying to and fro today, in and out of the nests. They always appear to be such happy birds.

    Very few swallows down the "village" but unfortunately someone moved in to one of the houses last September and smashed all the nests, it was the main house for swallows nests as well. Opposite, another householder puts old cds along the eaves to ensure no nests. It baffles me why they live in the countryside......I don't think they deserve to!
    Unfortunately, as more newcomers move in, it seems they hold similar anti-wildlife views. Sadly they have children as well so are passing these views on.
  • Yes firecrest. I have noticed, and recently commented on the same. Same people also complain about a once a year bonfire too! Lots of hedging, in the country.....what else do they think should be done instead? No idea how people can't share a tiny space on their outbuildings or houses with swallows......
  • I agree, I don't understand how people cannot find pleasure in such lovely birds.

    We do not have swallows, unfortunately. We have a small detached garage and have added a wooden box structure on the outside with a shelf and a purchased swallow's nest inside. No birds have shown any interest so I think the design may be wrong for them. We built it and attached it last year when the newcomer destroyed all the swallows nests hoping it could be an alternative.

    None of the windows in our garage are designed to open so I would like to change the one overlooking the field and get one I could leave open. Just when we have some spare cash really.

    Yes, we have a bonfire every year, only way to get rid of all the hedge cuttings etc. Mind you, our nearest neighbours are never here, they mainly live and work in the USA so we have never had any complaints.
  • Firecrest, Robbo. Unsurprisingly, I agree with you both regarding those who wish to live in the countryside but appear to dislike wildlife with a vengeance. We have the same thing here, in a village of just a few thousand inhabitants.
    The law here, though, forbids the destruction of the nests of active colonies, including while those nests are not in use (i.e., out of breeding season), so theoretically houseowners need to provide, or finance the provision of, alternative 'accommodation' if they wish to destroy even unused nests. But then, there's the law and the application of the law. We have personally been lied to by representatives of the state seeking to mislead us as to what actually consitutes a crime. Sad really, especially as those in question are responsible for regional fauna.
    On a happier note, a contact at BirdLife Switzerland told me last year of a householder who, over a period of years, moved an entire breeding colony from one side of their property, where it caused some nuissance, to the other, where there was less of a problem (for the householder). And apparently that was a success.
    So, it's not all dangling CDs, thank goodness.
    Oh, one final thing, I was once on a US forum where a poster swore that swallows and martins were a lethal danger. When pressed, the gentleman stated (with significant gravity) that one had once knocked off both his baseball cap and his sunglasses (sighs).
  • I know of an American couple who for nearly 40 years did as much as they could for their Tree Swallows and their Martins which they loved very much. He built many nest boxes, putting them up on their two properties, one on a northern lake, and she enjoyed throwing chicken feathers up into the air and watching the Tree Swallows swooping down to catch them and then flying away to add them to their nests. They also knew that summer had finally arrived when their Bluebirds returned every year on the 30th of May and the birds then set about building a nest in the nest box he had also built for them.

    Kind regards, 


  • A super story Ann; particularly the game of catch with the feathers.
    Tony, perhaps my closest friend, lives in DC and the family calls Carolina Wrens 'bagbirds', due to their habit of nesting in the compost.
  • Dave, Thanks, they inspired a few of their neighbours to become interested in birds as well, including the Ospreys nesting in a tree on the other side of the lake in the 1980s. The family joked that their oldest child would not stop bird watching long enough to get married, but would probably wear their binoculars to walk up the aisle! As for the Carolina Wren--that's a new one for me. I didn't know that any bird would nest in the compost!

    Kind regards,