What Happened to My Housemartin Nests?

Something seems to have attacked my 2 housemartin nests in the night - they have been nesting here for a few years now, started with 1 nest and then made another, it was lovely having them and every year they have produced broods. But this year I recently found one nest in pieces on the ground, previously to this a baby martin dead on the ground some way away from the nest which I couldn't understand. Last night I heard some odd noises which sounded like they were outside but on a high level. This morning I found pieces of the second nest on the ground, and saw a big hole in the side of the nest. It looks like something has attacked the nests, they wouldn't just fall into pieces like this :( could it be an owl? The reason I ask is that last week my son noticed a large owl perched on the ridge of our conservatory roof, something I'd never seen before, and I wondered if the owl might have done it?  But wouldn't it have eaten the baby rather than drop it?  So upsetting and I am so sad for the martings and I can't get up there to protect them, so I wonder if they are gone for good now :(

  • Sorry no one has replied yet. I suspect your post and others got buried amongst other postings.

    I empathise with you. I have/had a house martin colony and have had a series of issues involving first of all a sparrowhawk/great spotted woodpecker combo in the first year we moved here, to several years of house sparrow devastation.

    With it being July, hard to know when the issue occurred in terms of daylight. Also, without knowing what the sound was like, hard to know for sure.

    I personally would have to put aside the comment about a big hole in the side of the nest as presumably this could have been caused by impact on contact with the ground. How much, if any, of the nests remain attached to the house?

    Do you have great spotted woodpeckers in the area? House sparrows?
  • Hi, thanks for the response! I think the attacks happened in the night - after midnight, in the early hours which is why I'm thinking owl. The first one was completely off the wall and smashed on the ground with no sign of its occupants, I found it like that one morning. The second one I heard noises last night in the small hours, then this morning found pieces of the nest on the ground and looked up to see the nest still attached to the house wall but with a very large hole in the side of it and no sign of the birds. The only culprit I could think of was the owl we saw the previous week, perched on the apex of the conservatory which would have given it a good view of both nests and it wouldn't have been far for it to get to from there, but I don't know how it would have 'hovered' or clung to the house wall or gutters to do it!
  • We do have sparrows here and spotted woodpeckers too but I didn't think they were active at night, and after seeing the owl in a kind of odd place where we haven't seen one before that's what made me suspicous. I am so sad that the martins will probably not come back now if they've been attacked here.
  • (edited as I missed one of your two posts when I initially replied) When most people get up at this time of year, it's been light for hours. What you heard may not be anything to do with the nests, or could have followed after the nest had partially come down. 

    I don't suppose a mammal can get on the roof, or is in the loft and can reach the nests?

  • I can't really comment on your house, but there is no way any owl species could get at the martin nests here.
  • It was definitely dark when I heard the odd noises, around 1am, and I got up and looked out of the window and it was pitch black. The nest had been OK, and I only found the bits of it on the floor this morning, so I think it definitely got damaged between last night and this morning. Perhaps it was a woodpecker then, because that could cling onto the house wall couldn't it? The nests were in typical place for martins, right under the eaves/gutters and I couldn't see how an owl could get at them, so perhaps the owl we saw was a 'red herring' coincidence! I'm not sure what else could have happened as the nests have been there for several years, used without a problem, and suddenly both of them are now off/damaged :(
  • Sorry, yes. I didn't see one of your posts when I initially replied.
  • Great spotted woodpeckers cling to the nest itself, or at least, that's how I've seen it. It wouldn't have been there in the dark though.

    If they are natural nests, they may have been vulnerable to collapse anyway. I'm wondering if you heard the noises after the collapse.

    Sparrows do contribute to nest collapse.

    Sorry you lost your nests. Hopefully, they'll try again. Still time.
  • p.s. If you're able to get a photo posted of what remains of the nest, it might offer clues, or at least it might rule out one or two possibilities.
  • I took at photo this evening but it's not very good or clear, it was rather dull and overcast, how do I attach a photo to this?