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House Martin

Delichon urbicum

Gabhlán Binne

Status: Common summer visitor throughout Ireland from mid-March to late-September.

Conservation Concern: Has been Amber-listed in Ireland due to a large historical decline in the European breeding population. Several key populations in Europe are still decling.

Identification
: Between Sand Martin and Swallow in size. In allplumages has a large white rump, a feature not shown by either Sand Martin or Swallow. The flight is also different, gliding frequently on extended, almost triangular wings. Has a shallow tail fork like Sand Martin. Adult House Martins have a glossy black head, back, wings and tail, contrasting markedly whith the pure white underparts.  In juveniles, the upperparts lake the glossy sheen, while the underparts are washed grey-brown.

Similar Species: Swallow and Sand Martin

Call: Rather vocal. The most frequently heard call is a dry “prittt”. Has a rather primitive song of various squeaky notes mixed with call-notes.

Diet: Like Swallows and Sand Martins, House Martins feed on insects such as aphids and mayflies caught in flight.

Breeding: Similar to Swallow, the House Martin constructs a nest out of mud. It is usually sited underneath the eaves of a house. Also nests on cliffs. Usually raises between two or three broods every year, with some fledging as late as October.

Wintering
: Winters in tropical Africa.

Where to See: Widespread throughout Ireland, especially in urban areas.

Monitored by
: Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack
.

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