Wel­come re­turn

Landscape (UK) - - Our Landscape -

Fresh from their mi­gra­tion af­ter over­win­ter­ing in Africa, house mar­tins be­gin their UK res­i­dence on wet­lands. There, they feed on aerial in­sects, be­fore re­turn­ing to their tra­di­tional nest­ing sites in May. These so­cial birds are eas­ily recog­nised by their dis­tinc­tive white rump, forked tail and glossy blue-black up­per parts. A breed­ing pair take ap­prox­i­mately 10 days to con­struct their nest out of at least 1,000 beak-sized mud pel­lets, of­ten in the eaves of houses. Colo­nial nesters, house mar­tins usu­ally gather in groups of four to five nests. The breed­ing sea­son runs un­til Au­gust, tak­ing ad­van­tage of high in­sect numbers.

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