House Martins, master builders?

House Martins, master builders?

House Martins gather up mud (c.Oran O’Sullivan)

Summer showers, heavy but not too prolonged, are ideal weather conditions in an otherwise dry, hot summer for two of our summer visitors. Swallow and House Martin rely on a steady supply of mud to construct and maintain their nests and finding a supply of building grade material is essential for a successful breeding season.

The House Martins nest is composed almost entirely of mud pellets, formed into a cup, sited neatly under the eaves of a house with a small entrance hole to the top. Its a ten day build and may be comprised of between 700 and 1500 mud pellets.

House Martins will visit suitable puddles to gather materials, one of the few times you will observe them at ground level. If the mud in the nest dries out too quickly or the mix is not quite right, the cement like structure can crash to the ground, often at the tail end of the breeding season when the structure is under most pressure with a nest full of boisterous young birds.

A recent visitor to my website followed up his visit with a phone call, and news of a predicament. A nest had crashed down and contained three well grown young, apparently unharmed from their tumble down.

My advice was not to try adopting the birds as feeding would be very specialised and full time, rather to try and put the birds back as closely to the original nest site as possible. The adults were still present , so their was a reasonable chance that they would continue to tend to their unfortunate young.

Safe home. (c. Sean Mc Daid)

Sean came up with a good and safe design for a temporary nest: a plant pot with soil in the bottom half to aid stability. The whole thing was anchored to the window frame with a bungee strap. A wooly hat and scarf completed the luxury suite. The adults obviously approved and began feeding the young as normal. The great news is that the birds fledged successfully.. what a heart warming story, well done Sean and Ciara on your initiative.

Snug or what ! (c. Ciara Mc Daid)