The Kennedy Wild Bird Food guide to the House Martin
The House Martin is a migrant bird that can be spotted in the summertime around the UK. Their numbers however are in decline, placing them on the Amber List.
We are here to take a look at the House Martin, give you some useful House Martin facts and tell you everything you need to know about these beautiful little birds.
What does a House Martin look like?
Adult House Martin:
The House Martin is a small bird with a distinctive forked tail, glossy blue and black feathers on its back and white feathers on its underparts, rump, legs and toes. They have short, thin, black beaks. House Martins are 12 cm long, have a wingspan of 26-29 cm and can weigh anything from 15-23g.
What do House Martins eat?
House Martins eat flying insects, including aphids and flies.
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What does a House Martin’s song sound like?
A house Martin’s sound is high-pitched and trilling. It can sound similar to the song of a sparrow.
Behaviours of a House Martin
At one time House Martins would make their nests on cliffs but now they usually build them under the eaves of houses. These nests are made from over 1000 beak sized pellets of mud and are always closed, except for one entrance hole at the top. It takes a House Martin ten days to build one of these nests. House Sparrows sometimes take over them but House Martins will repair them for the next season.
They are very sociable and nest in colonies, which can include hundreds of birds. Despite pairing up to breed, they will only stay together for one breeding season and won’t pair up again the following year.
With a lifespan of two years, House Martins typically have two or three broods, having their first at the age of one. Although a rare occurrence in birds, the young from the first brood will help to feed the second.
Where and when can I see a House Martin?
House Martins can be found across the UK in towns and villages, however, they are scarce in numbers across Northern and Western Scotland. As they eat aerial insects they are mainly seen near areas of mixed agriculture, water and woodland.
In September/October House Martins migrate south. They return in March/April when they feed over wetlands for a short while, before they return back to their traditional nest sites.
Be the first person to log a House Martin sighting by signing into our Kennedy Wild Bird Food Birdspotter app!