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House Martins Nest Building
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KarinBee



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Location: Northumberland

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:44 am    Post subject: House Martins Nest Building Reply with quote

I noticed last Monday that House Martins were starting to build a nest under the eaves of our house. This is the first time it has ever happened since we moved here 17 years ago and I was so happy they'd chosen our house as they are such wonderful little characters. However, a week on and the nest has progressed slightly but they tend not to be building it everyday.

How long does it normally take for them to build their nests? I did noticce that they were around more last week when the weather was a lot brighter and warmer.

I have tried to help them during the drier weather by putting a large cat litter tray on top of our shed roof with a muddy puddle in it but I've never seen them using it so far.

If the nest doesn't get completed soon, would I be able to put up an artificial one or would I have to wait until Autumn to put it up ready for them returning next year?
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Kit



Joined: 25 Sep 2005
Posts: 2547
Location: Nottingham

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure how long it usually takes, Karin, I guess the best you can do is wait and see what happens. It's possible that it's a young pair, who've got the nesting instinct but who may not be ready to breed yet. That's guesswork, though, I've no detailed knowledge. Keep us posted!
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KarinBee



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Location: Northumberland

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply, Kit.

At one point there were at least four or five of them swooping in and out of the nest building site.

I see them flying around in the sky and am really missing them. I do hope they come back.

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Caemelyn



Joined: 29 May 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Ceredigion

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Karin starting and stopping nest building is quite common here although I have man made boxes on the house my friends house is covered with aborted attempts some in inapropriate places probably by inexperienced birds as one attempt fell down around five times last year. The massing of birds in the nest area is also very common especially on a nice day the martins are often accompanied by swallows and the odd swift circling and hovering around the nests all very excited. If they fail to come back try a nest box yourself preferably a double. Be careful where you locate it though keep out of the sun North and East is recommended although mine are on the West but high under eaves so out of the sun. Incidently my birds only started mid July last year this year it was April 5th and the numbers are building with a third nest just started. The one advantage of later starts is you do not get such a sparrow problem later on. Good luck
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KarinBee



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Location: Northumberland

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply, Caemelyn. Sadly they have decided not to return and I haven't actually seen them around the area for a while either. i may buy and fit a bird box myself. Should I do this now or wait until the autumn? The place they had decided to build was south facing under the eaves of our house and it was ideal for us as it was in our back garden where we could see them a lot more. Should I put the box where the original nest building was going on or should I put it in the position you suggested? Sorry if I am repeating myself but I don't want to get this all wrong.
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Caemelyn



Joined: 29 May 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Ceredigion

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Karin its difficult to give hard and fast advice as nothing is written in stone and when it comes to a complex behavioral subject it makes it all the more difficult as all I have read about the subject is a highly simplistic version of a very complex story. However, based on what I have experienced I would say that a southerly facing wall would be for obvious reasons not a good choice unless of course the eaves are angled or deep enough to prevent direct contact with the sun even if this was the case the heat gain on such a wall would be significant.
It would be a very good idea to put a box up now preferably a double as some birds are only just starting and even if its not used this year it will be noticed (believe me) and visited next year. There are other issues to consider one of which is position of nest in relation to doors, Martins although the sweetest of birds can be a bit messy and this can prove to be a bit unpopular in some quarters. Also a clear access is useful but not essential my garden is full of overhead wires. No point at all in putting the box up in the Autumn unless its for other birds to roost in as most Martins have left by the end of September. Better to either take the box down at the end of September until April or block the entrance hole until then. The biggest problem by far will be house sparrows taking over the nest they are a real pain and must be discouraged at all costs if they start nesting take out the nesting material as soon as they start, they will 'rag' or destroy an established nest if given the opportunity, a catapult is a very useful tool:-).
Despite this the Martins are feisty enough to defend the nests but if you really want to improve their chances don't just put up up one double but make it two once you have a few birds in position they act together to deter the sparrows. Finally it is all worth it just to watch them learning to fly swooping and diving playing piggy back and enjoying life. If you purchase nests boxes make sure they are at least 7.5 cm deep inside CJ Birds are selling a box thats too small inside I have complained and they tell me they have spoken to their manufacturers. Regards and good luck
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Kit



Joined: 25 Sep 2005
Posts: 2547
Location: Nottingham

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please do bear in mind that it is illegal to disturb any nesting bird, including house sparrows (which are red-listed for conservation purposes).
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Caemelyn



Joined: 29 May 2009
Posts: 16
Location: Ceredigion

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kit every bird needs its champion and clearly house sparrows have found one in you and I applaud this I myself support a very large flock some 50+ strong in my garden and enjoy watching their antics in the bird bath. Having said that (the following is in my opinion) the male house sparrow is extremely destructive early in the season and causes an immense amount of damage to house martin nests and will given the opportunity take over the nests for its own purposes. You can of course try and prevent this by erecting defensive barriers chains etc which work to a certain degree. However the sparrows are smart usually manage to overcome the barriers. If you evict them as soon as they start that usually works they will move to another house martin nest if its available you simply need to evict them from this again and in the end they simply look elsewhere.
As for sparrows being in danger of extinction I understand they were top of the list on this years survey which is hardly surprising as far as I am concerned their numbers have increased dramatically probably due to people like me feeding them so well. I mourn the demise of other normally common species in particular the tits this year. If you really want to take up the mantel of endangered species then look no further than the swift they to nest mainly in houses of course and also have the sparrows to contend with.
I came to an amicable agreement with the sparrows in my garden after a very difficult year I feed and water them and they rarely land even on the guttering of the one wall where the Martins nest on. How did I achieve this you may ask? Sorry for fear of offending you I'm not going to say. But we are all happy now especially my Martins and Sparrows. Incidentally I've got one sparrow thats half white funny looking chappie Smile
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mark smyth



Joined: 28 Jul 2008
Posts: 186

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would have rushed to buy a martin box or buy a swallow nest and let the martins finish it
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John_H



Joined: 26 May 2010
Posts: 1
Location: Sidmouth

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 2:25 pm    Post subject: Possible Idea to Deter Sparrows? Reply with quote

Quote:
The biggest problem by far will be house sparrows taking over the nest they are a real pain and must be discouraged at all costs if they start nesting take out the nesting material as soon as they start, they will 'rag' or destroy an established nest if given the opportunity, a catapult is a very useful tool:-).


Hi All,

New to the Forum (thanks for having me Smile ). We're lucky enough to have quite a few house martin nests under our eaves (18 last year!), and this year is the first in a decade that we've ever had trouble with sparrows. It breaks my heart to think of last year's babies coming back to breed and being chased away by a bossy little sprat in a black bib! However, I do appreciate that sparrows are at risk too, so for this year I'm prepared to leave alone and let them sort it out between themselves (and there are plenty of other sites in our village for the martins to choose from).

For next year, however, I was thinking of a solution that doesn't involve interfering with the behaviour of either bird too much. Why don't I just break the bottoms out of the old house martin nests during the winter when they're empty so that there isn't enough of a structure for the sparrows to hijack? The martins will still see the remains and so hopefully be encouraged to improve, extend or build afresh (there's a nice little stream across the valley which provides mud each year for rebuilding), while the sparrows can find somewhere else to build their nests in spring. This might also discourage any over-wintering parasites which seem to plague "our" martins, particularly those evil-looking Crataerina hirundinis!

Any drawbacks to this plan?

All the best,

John
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mark smyth



Joined: 28 Jul 2008
Posts: 186

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldnt break the bottoms of the nests but reduce the nest to maybe a third
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lizo



Joined: 05 Jul 2011
Posts: 5

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:36 pm    Post subject: House Martins building inside roof Reply with quote

Very Happy
We have had house martins nesting on our house for many years, usually two mud nests. However, this year one pair are nesting inside the roof. Is this unusual? They enter through the tiny gap between the horizontal eaves and the vertical wall of our stone house , next to a window - and there is absolutely no doubt of this because we can lie in bed and watch them ! It is going to be a bit tricky for the young to emerge, because usually they spend lots of time watching from the hole in the more usual mud nest before daring to venture out on the wing for the first time. Would they have built a mud nest inside the roof?

Lizo
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mark smyth



Joined: 28 Jul 2008
Posts: 186

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sounds more like swifts. They nest in such places. They look all black with sickle shaped wings. They enter nests very fast - blink and you miss them
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lizo



Joined: 05 Jul 2011
Posts: 5

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: House martins nesting inside roof Reply with quote

Thank you for your response. We do have swifts nesting in the village school, but these are definitely not swifts. They at times can be seen peeping out through the gap under the eaves and they most definitely have white fronts and can be seen to be black and white as they fly away.

Liz
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mark smyth



Joined: 28 Jul 2008
Posts: 186

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you'll have to get photos to persuade the bird world. Looking forward to your photos

I've seen photos of house martins using swift nest boxes and sand martins in holes in walls

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