Country Corner

A house martin
A house martin

Mary Wallace sends more news from the Gifford area with a photo taken through her window, showing a nesting house martin.

Mary says: “The nest is in the window recess of a bedroom. Fascinating to watch from the first beak full of mud to the finish.

“Henry reckons that they come back to the place where they fledged the next year to find a nest site, but do not breed until the following year.

“Other martins have put lumps of mud on other window recesses, shall we expect more nests next year?”

That all sounds perfectly plausible Mary. Although house martins breed at a year old, they can have two or three broods in one summer,so a fledgling from an autumn brood would probably be too young to breed in its first year.

A pair is unlikely to use the same nest the following year, though it may be repaired and used by another pair.

Perhaps they prefer building a new nest because the old nest may contain parasites.

House martins are not very long lived birds and many only ever nest once in their lives, another reason they don’t often re-use a nest.

Males are more loyal to their birth sites while females are much less so. I suppose this prevents inbreeding.

It is all fascinating stuff as Mary says.

The good news for Mary is that she can indeed expect more nests next year.

The partial nests of this year may be juvenile nesting practise, or may simply be due to the surface being too smooth to provide a secure anchor, causing the birds to try another spot.

Considering how far and against great odds, these birds have battled their way from sub-Saharan Africa to nest on our houses, the least we can do is to make them welcome and enjoy their antics and apparent zest for life.