House Martin (Delichon urbica)
Last month iWatch Wildlife asked for Brown Hare sightings for ‘Species of the Month’ – and we’ve had a great response with Hare records still coming in!
This month we are asking you to tell us about House Martin nest sites.
Upon returning to the UK from Africa each spring, the House Martin used to be a regular summer sighting in every town and village. Sadly, during the last 40 years, the population in England has declined by 69% and now nest sites are mainly associated with village locations. This recent decline means they are now at Amber status on the list of Birds of Conservation Concern.
Surprisingly, despite their close association with mankind by building their mud nests mainly on houses and bungalows, very little is known about House Martins or why there has been such a decline; here is where citizen science can step in and help – we need your observations please!
It would be brilliant to boost the current records for House Martin nest sites on the Island, so please let us know if you spot a nest, or are lucky enough to have a nest where you live – photos would be an extra bonus!
If you can spare a little extra time, Jim Baldwin our local British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) representative is looking for help with monitoring House Martin nests. All you need to do is spend a maximum of 15 minutes observing it once a week throughout the breeding season from a safe distance to minimise disturbance to the birds. Regular observations over a period of time can be invaluable, so please do get in touch with Jim on Facebook @wightbto or email: email@example.com and he can tell you everything you need to know and help you get started.
Identification: a small bird with glossy blue-black upper parts and pure white under parts. It has a distinctive white rump with a forked tail. It spends much of its time on the wing collecting insect prey.
Good to know: They return to the UK in April. Originally, nesting on cliffs they soon took to nesting on buildings, attaching their mud nest cup under eaves; each cup takes up to 10 days to build, and over 1000 beak sized pellets of mud – incredible!
More info here: