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House martin survey

07/05/2013 15:45:28

BTO wants to know where House martins are nesting. Picture courtesy of British Trust for Ornithology

Help BTO find Britain's House martins
May 2013. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is appealing for help in finding one of our closest summer neighbours, the House Martin.

The aptly named House Martin returns to the UK during April and early May to build its cup shaped nest under the eaves of our homes. However, all is not well with this engaging little bird. Over the last 25 years we have lost two-thirds of our breeding House Martins, with the losses being greatest in England and Wales.

Colonies disappearing
During the last year, the BTO has received several reports of long-established colonies being abandoned, possibly due to the cool, wet 2012 summer, and they want to know just where House Martins are building their nests this year.

Paul Stancliffe, from the BTO commented, "Despite House Martins sharing our homes with us during the summer months there are huge gaps in our knowledge of this wonderful little bird. Do they abandon colonies one year to reoccupy them at some stage in the future? Do they all arrive at the same time or is the arrival spread out over several weeks? Are there really more House Martins breeding in Scotland than in other parts of the UK? These are all questions that we would like to answer, and we can only begin to do this if people tell us about their martins."

Report nests
He added, "Once we have a better understanding of where House Martins are and how well they are doing, we can then begin to look at possible reasons for the recent drop in their breeding population. The beauty is that anyone with a House Martin nest can help."

The BTO are also hoping to solve one of ornithology's great mysteries, where House Martins go for the winter. Once this tiny bird crosses the Sahara Desert it disappears. In a bid to answer this mystery, the BTO hope to fit shirt-button sized geolocators to House Martins in the UK that will reveal their winter location.

For more information and to take part in the House Martin survey, click here.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

House martins in the Algarve Portugal

I know that I am not in Britain and this is a British survey site but thought I would pass on this info anyway. In fact it is more of a series of questions really.
I live in the Algarve Portugal and we are right in the middle of the migration areas to and fro from Africa to Northern Europe.
House Martins are very common here but it is the migration behaviour that is fascinating me.
I live near the very pleasant town of Loule in the Algarve and at some 900 feet above sea level we have a hill behind us which I guess around here is a focal point for the martins.
Over the past few weeks now at about 4.30 to 5pm hundreds of martins start to gather and hold up on wires, trees etc behind our house and this gathering enlarges up to about 8 pmish.the birds chattering away and swirling around.
There might be a thousand birds or maybe a little less but a vast amount anyway.
They then literally disappear. Have waited for the departure but as to date always manage to miss the launch. Mind you done the same with swarms from my beehive. There one minute gone the next.
Now the ?s.
are these birds gathering to migrate. Do they migrate in vast numbers so they can guard each other on the wing safety in numbers , is the time of night a time when they can start to navigate by the stars etc, do they travel at night for the stars to navigate by and be devoid of predators , heat of the day etc.
All the birds I have described were immature birds I guess born here a few weeks ago .
Oh by the way had a Golden Oriel in the orchard the other day, fantastic song fantastic bird.
Spent a few days in the Alentejo this spring the flowers birds and food up there are awesome .i have a friend with a hotel and working farm so a great place to go birding..
Hope this info is interesting and I would appreciate a feed back.
Peter B

Posted by: Peter Bignold | 13 Aug 2013 15:32:31

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