House martin

©Dawn Monrose

House Martin

Scientific name: Delichon urbicum
As its name suggests, the House Martin can be spotted nesting in the eaves of houses in our towns and villages. Its intricate mud nests take days to build and are often returned to and used in following years.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 13cm
Wingspan: 28cm
Weight: 19g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

April to October

About

The House Martin is a common summer visitor to the UK, arriving in April and leaving in October. It builds mud nests, sometimes in small colonies, under ledges, on cliffs and, as their name suggests, under the eaves of houses. Both males and females help to build the nest, collecting mud from streams and ponds and building up layers with bill-sized pellets. House Martins are commonly found in towns and villages, as well as in agricultural areas. They feed on flying insects and aphids.

How to identify

The House Martin is glossy black above, completely white below, and has a white rump and a short, forked tail.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

House Martins will return from their African wintering grounds to the same nesting sites each year. They can reuse their old nests, saving them about ten day's work collecting mud. So don't knock down that empty nest - you never know who might turn up to use it!

How people can help

To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird food, feeders and other wildlife products, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm that gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.