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Living with Birds 21 Facts on House Martin Tweetapedia

21 Facts

House Martin

  1. The use of the familiar boy’s name, Martin, is a reflection of our close relationship with this species. The full name, house martin, is only a couple of centuries old.
  2. Few birds are more social than this: nesting colonies of several hundred birds have been recorded in many countries.
  3. They are one of the most widespread birds in Europe, occurring from the Mediterranean all the way north to the arctic. They are, however, rare breeders in Iceland.
  4. Young from the first brood have often been observed helping their parents feed the next brood, an unusual occurrence in birds.
  5. Breeding birds were lost from London in the mid 20th-century due to air pollution, but as the result of cleaner air have recolonised successfully.
  6. Around 86% of birds nesting in Britain attempt to rear two broods.
  7. Though the same pair will usually remain together for a single breeding season, it is rare for the two to pair again the following year, even if both survive.
  8. The diet is almost exclusively flying insects, caught on the wing.
  9. House martins typically feed at a higher altitude than swallows, so the two species do not compete with each other.
  10. Successful nests will be repaired and used again in subsequent seasons.
  11. Elsewhere in Europe it is known as the house swallow (hence the Dutch Huiszwaluw) and window swallow (the French name is hirondelle de fenêtre).
  12. Artificial nests are popular, and it is possible to attract new colonies by erecting boxes in suitable sites.
  13. House sparrows will often take over martin nests, frequently ousting the rightful owners.
  14. Each nest is made up of at least 1,000 beak-sized mud pellets.
  15. The great majority of house martins build their nests under the eaves of houses, but a few colonies can still be found on cliffs.
  16. It takes a pair of house martins about 10 days to construct their mud-cup nest, and this depends on a suitable supply of mud nearby.
  17. Though almost all Europe’s house martins go south for the winter, a few remain in southern Spain and Portugal throughout the year.
  18. While swallows prefer open countryside, house martins are much more likely to be found in urban areas.
  19. Many people confuse swallows and house martins: the latter’s white rump is a certain distinguishing feature.
  20. Though over a quarter of a million house martins have been ringed in the British Isles, there has only ever been one recovery from south of the Sahara.
  21. Around 12 million pairs of house martins nest in Europe, yet we still don’t know where they winter in Africa. It’s suspected that they congregate high over the rainforests of the Congo basin.
21 Facts On House Martin I1