House Martins Under Attack.
We loved having some House Martins build a nest above our bedroom window, but when it was attacked we didn’t know what to do. The first sign was the change in tone from the babies. First they were sweet and chirrupy, then one morning they were raucous and unpleasant.
Little did we know there was a war on. The nest was being attacked. I saw a little brown bird land on top of the open window, I thought it might come in the room but it flew away and life went on.
Then a couple of days later the Martins were gone, all was quiet. This was odd because House Martins raise offspring who in turn help to feed the latest hatchlings. It’s a growing family (and an absolute delight to watched them fly like Swifts and land, belly facing, right above your bedroom window) The precision with which these birds navigate the world is awesome.
House Martins are also specially protected by law, dislodging one could land you in jail in the UK. So when they moved out so suddenly, Shannon was compelled to help. She discovered that House Sparrows will take a Martin’s nest, and the behavior we saw was typical. She also found the solution.
What she did was tie little washers to some string and hang it on the eaves.
“The strings should be about 230 mm long, 65 mm apart and no nearer than 150 mm to the nest hole” – RSPB
The trick works because House Martins can swoop in underneath the string but the House Sparrows, despite being nimble on the wing, can’t risk fluttering through those hanging strings. Science!
(If you feel sorry for the House Sparrows, and apart from complete psychopaths no one does) You can find instructions for ideal homes for them here.