What Happened to My Housemartin Nests?

  • In reply to Robbo:

    I don't think we have anything in our loft, I would have heard it at night, but next door oddly have apparently heard what they think might be a bird in theirs, at night! Not sure what it is, and I will ask them if they investigate it and find out, their daughter said it sounded like something was fluttering about in there. The noises I heard last night weren't like fluttering though, they were heavier sounds.
  • Update - I think sparrows may have destroyed the nests - over the last few days I have found 2 tiny martin nestlings, one right below the second partly destroyed nest and one further away - and this is what I had found previously with slightly larger babies, there had been one too far away to have just dropped out. The babies also have not been eaten, I think the growing numbers of sparrows we have here, coupled with a potential nest further along, tucked behind a drainpipe on my neighbour's house, has caused the sparrows to become territorial to the extent that they have attacked and destroyed the martins' nests. I doubt that the martins will return after this, especially with the sparrows growing in number. So sad.
  • Thanks for the update. You could well be right as that is exactly what has happened here. House sparrow numbers had been in the high single figures, and they were more than happy with boxes at the side and front of the house, plus neighbours'. The population has kept growing and now I often look out the window to see groups of 10-15 flying across the garden....to join others.
    It is no coincidence, IMO, that the house sparrow population has been growing again in recent years in the south while the house martin population in its southern strongholds has declined. Various reasons, but house sparrow impact has been grossly under estimated and overlooked.
    Having said all that, and against my negative nature, I'll just say not to give up. Although a sparrowhawk has taken a feeding adult, I do still have a chance of fledged young here. Sparrow impact every year gets less as the Summer draws on.....I've got several artificial nests so it is easy for them to have another go. Obviously not easy for natural nest pairs.
  • For the record Robbo, I put your House Sparrow theory to the regional Swift expert earlier this week. Makes perfect sense to him, and he was keen to learn more about the threads/strings solution you discussed recently in an earlier thread.
  • Yes, and we did have swifts here too. I even put up a second box for them.....sparrows took both over. Had a pair of swifts every Summer since, swopping up to unused martin nests as they'd given up on the swift boxes. Obviously, martin nests weren't any good to them.
  • Do you have a link back to your post on threads/strings, or an explanation I can share with 'our' guy?
  • In reply to Robbo:

    I am near farmland here, and there is a large sparrow population, often in large numbers at the nut feeder - and I think there too they are pushing other birds away from the feeder. I used to see bluetits and the occasional other bird as well as a woodpecker but I haven't seen any other birds apart from sparrows for months now. We also have larger numbers of starlings as well, they seem to have done better recently too.
  • Is this what you're after, Dave?

  • I'm afraid Ladybird if people keep feeding sparrows, they will keep multiplying. Given ideal conditions, they are, IMO, invasive. It would be far easier to have their numbers bouncing back (as is the case now) than house martins, swifts and others.
  • Are there any sparrow-proof feeders which would encourage other birds? I do think that the sparrows are bullying other birds away, but I like feeding the birds and watching them, it's a shame if that needs to stop because of the sparrow imbalance. Is there a particular food that sparrows do not like? I have seen occasional bluetits and goldfinches too but not often and a woodpecker in a nearby oak tree which hasn't been visiting much either lately.