Common House Martins (Delichon urbica) Gather Material for their Nests

Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum)

Common house martins breed in colonies. Often this means only groups of four or five nests, which sometimes even touch each other. In densely populated areas colonies can however be comprised of one thousand nests.

While barn swallows breed inside of buildings common house martins do so very rarely preferring to attach their nests to the outside of buildings, mainly directly under a ledge such as eaves. They rather raise their young near humans than for example under a bridge far away from human settlements.

The parents build the nest together in about 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. It typically is in the shape of an eighth or a quarter of a ball, it is therefore enclosed on all sides except for the small round entrance at the top. This sets the common house martin apart from the barn swallow whose nest is open all along the rim as it is nowhere attached to the ceiling. In the case of both birds however the nests are build with clay and soil nuggets.

The common house martins are careful to select location where they can attach directly to the wall instead of where the presence of lichens for example would result in a weaker bond. The nest is build proceeding from the inside and when the weight-bearing construction is completed the interior is made more comfortable with soft materials such as feathers and grass.

My Home *

I’m sure you have seen my house before. Actually, it is something of a built-on extension to your own houses. I only live there for a couple of months. It’s built of a thin mud paste, and is fastened high under the eaves so it’s protected from the rain. Usually, another pair of swallows helps us with the building programme, so we’re able to complete the nest in 10 to 14 days. Then we help them.

I won’t deny that we’re very “human” about the whole thing. If our neighbours don’t watch out, we steal some of their nesting material, which they have just built into their own nest. That way we save ourselves a lot of flying, but we often pay for it in terms of aggravation. Naturally, our neighbours do the same thing to us.

We build our nest so that it is almost completely closed. Only a small hole remains open at the top. Inside, we carefully upholster with moss, blades of grass, small feathers and fluff. You can be assured, we always keep the place clean and neat. If it ever looks untidy, you can account it down to the sparrows who have trespassed and made it their own nest.


* quotes from the book "If Animals Could Talk"

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