House Martins flock back to Doddington

It’s that time of year again, our beautiful House Martin residents are back for the summer!

After their yearly African migration to breed, the birds have made the journey of up to 8,000 miles back to the UK to nest and hatch their beautiful chicks from April through to August and leave in October.

House Martins

House Martins are a species of bird that have had their behaviour directly impacted by human activity – since the 1900s they have swapped their tendency to nest on cliffs and rock faces in favour of using human buildings as a substitute.

They make their nests mostly from mud, grass and feathers on the outside of buildings that hold four or five eggs. They feed their chicks with flying insects they catch in the air – a very entertaining chase to watch!

Despite efforts to support the species, the number of house martins has declined by 57% since 1969 and has unfortunately landed them on the IUCN Red List of threatened species from 2021.

What we’re doing

Our House Martin colony is a significant population for Lincolnshire so it’s really important to us that we do everything we can to support them – here are some of the reasons House Martins keep coming back to us:

  • Nest sites. In 2022 we added 8 artificial nests to the bungalow and are thrilled that several were quickly occupied, saving 10 days of hard nest building for the birds. They can reuse their old nests, so don’t knock down empty nests – you never know who might turn up to use them!
  • Building materials. The natural nests are made from about 1,000 beakfuls of mud! In dry weather we water an area of grass to provide a handy source of mud – you may see tiny beak marks in the muddy patches in the grass.
  • Food. House Martins and their chicks feed entirely on insects. We are wilding the farm at Doddington for biodiversity and this will increase insect numbers.

Where can I find them?

Because they like to nest in human structures the most likely place to spot them is near the buildings around the hall itself, as well as the pyramid and cattle pasture a few fields down. Most bird species are rather timid and scare easily with noise, so if you’re really quiet you might catch a glimpse of these beautiful summer visitors.

Nests sometimes fall down when full of chicks, so please let us know if you see a fallen nest so we can help save the chicks inside!

Follow our journey to get Wilder at Doddington:

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