Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Extremely weird House Martin behaviour

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rating: Thread Rating: 7 votes, 5.00 average.
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 11:29   #1
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Extremely weird House Martin behaviour

On my estate there is a colony of House Martins, about 20 pairs. There are also a few pairs of Swifts around. They left at the very beginning of August. Earlier in the year (about three months ago) the House Martins were swooping low over the houses and gardens and flying upwards to the walls and apexes and sometimes staying there for a few seconds. I thought this was checking out nest sites, but I'm not sure.


Today, something very weird happened. About an hour ago, hundreds of House Martins appeared, wheeling and swooping all over the place. Particularly in one garden. They were swooping up to the apex, back down again over the garden and landing in a tree! Many birds perched in the tree for a while and then flew up again, swooping like mad all over the place again.

Some were in the fields (I live on the edge of the estate next to a copse and farmland) and over the trees, but mainly in this one garden. Then many moved off and were all over the estate, flying through the gardens and going up to the apexes again, like the time that I described at the beginning of this thread.

Then they were everywhere again, and particularly this one garden, and I even noticed some very high in the sky - they were everywhere! Far more than I have ever seen here before, there must be about 300 + around. Then, I saw two Swifts with them! This estate's Swifts left 11 days ago, but suddenly these birds appeared.


Surely they're not getting ready to leave this early (House Martins)? Are they getting ready for migration so soon? I know they have more than one brood, and last year they stayed until September. There are still youngsters in some of the nests.

Are they passage birds, which would explain the Swifts? Again, surely not this early? Or are they the earliest nesters that have finished and are just passing through, leaving the rest behind?


There are many flying ants around here at the moment, and lots of House Sparrows are catching them in the air. Could this explain the unusual behaviour?

I took lots of pictures, and will try to upload them tonight. Now the numbers have reduced to only about 40 birds, and the huge number have disappeared!

Please help! Thanks.

Last edited by tp20uk : Thursday 11th August 2005 at 11:32.
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 13:00   #2
Andrew Rowlands
Registered User
 
Andrew Rowlands's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wales.
Posts: 5,965
Sounds like a combination of factors at work here David - possibly a local flock started mobbing a raptor (Sparrowhawk, probably, if it's in a garden), this flock attracted more distant birds (the migrants?), they may have 'thought' it could be a feeding flock as they would need to feed up while they can?

Andy.
Andrew Rowlands is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 16:41   #3
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Thanks Andrew. I don't think it was a local flock as there aren't that many around here, and this was a huge flock. I had a pretty good view of the garden and I'm almost positive there was no Sparrowhawk there. They were flying to the tree and perching on it often. Also, they were going round the house as well. Can anyone else help?
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 19:15   #4
bluetit
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: near Edinburgh, Scotland
Posts: 244
I would plumb for food, i.e. the flying ants at the moment and of course the jungledrum will bring every able bird in the vicinity, bit like a feeding frenzy. ( Seem to remember something on the box on that sort of thing a while back.)
This flying up and down walls, rooves etc. business could come under the same heading as same/ some/ other insects will be close to those for whatever reason, avoiding being eaten i.e.? Rather like a shoal of fish when the biggies move in . Be interested whatelse anybody is coming up with.
Bluetit
__________________
when I look at this world I'm wide-eyed and legless
bluetit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 19:18   #5
bluetit
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: near Edinburgh, Scotland
Posts: 244
Forgot the garden, can you find out whether there is something there insectwise perhaps coming from there?
Bluetit
__________________
when I look at this world I'm wide-eyed and legless
bluetit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 19:30   #6
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
I'll try, thanks for the reply bluetit. Can anyone else help?
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 11th August 2005, 20:40   #7
Wickham
Skype username wickham43 (I have video)
 
Wickham's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Salisbury UK
Posts: 185
Flying ants is also my suggestion.
In Wiltshire where I live the ants came out two days ago when it was a bit thundery.
Wickham is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 12th August 2005, 16:04   #8
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Thanks Wickham. That still doesn't explain the larger numbers, two mystery Swifts and them all perching in a tree!
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 12th August 2005, 16:42   #9
bluetit
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: near Edinburgh, Scotland
Posts: 244
Phew, you are like a dog with a bone. Might the swifts not join what's going on? And the tree, well, maybe it was nicer to sit there than on a telephone line, more insects congregating under there as well.
Bluetit
P.S.: What about the garden? Keep us updated on your findings of your research, please. B.
__________________
when I look at this world I'm wide-eyed and legless
bluetit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 12th August 2005, 16:48   #10
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Right...The local Swifts had left over a week ago, so no. And the House Martins weren't staying on the tree for long, and flying all over the place. When they were on the tree they were resting, not eating insects.
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 12th August 2005, 16:55   #11
bluetit
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: near Edinburgh, Scotland
Posts: 244
Well, I still plumb for food as the main reason, what'ya think?
Bluetit
__________________
when I look at this world I'm wide-eyed and legless
bluetit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 12th August 2005, 21:33   #12
christineredgate
Winner of the Copeland Wildlife Photographer of the Year Comp 2009/2010
 
christineredgate's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Haverigg,South Cumbria
Posts: 31,993
When I was taking Swallow pics a couple of days ago,I noticed one of the birds had a clump of mud in its mouth.One of the fisherman did ask if these birds were still nesting and producing new chicks.They all seem to be late with the chicks this year,and this guy asked,did they just keep on nesting,and then suddenly start the migration.I must admit I thought I had missed most of the youngsters,but now they are everywhere.
__________________
Haverigg.net

Ride Free,Fly Free.
Avatar by Tracker(Tom)
Christine
christineredgate is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 13th August 2005, 13:04   #13
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Thanks Christine. I suppose they could have youngsters, and the nests do seem to be edging closer to my house (YAY). Earlier in the year during the frenzied inspections(?) they investigated my house several times, including the House Martin nest cup! Here's hoping for next year!

I'm still confused about the perching on the tree though. It seemed to be the main activity, all taking turns on the tree!
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 13th August 2005, 14:52   #14
pauco
Старлинг фан
 
pauco's Avatar

 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: lancashire
Posts: 4,476
Hi David, once maybe twice a year, there is a big mateing ritual with ants, they take to the air for a few hours, and produce a big feeding frenzy in the avian world, so the birds will make the most of these meals on wings. You will also see Gulls that are inland making
the most of these flying ants.
__________________


Paul.
pauco is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 13th August 2005, 15:49   #15
david2004
Registered User
 
david2004's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: England
Posts: 1,227
Thanks Paul. I heard about that, but these ants have been around a lot, and I'm very confused about the tree perching!
david2004 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 15th October 2008, 18:50   #16
ANdy5551
Urbicafan
 
ANdy5551's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: East Yorkshire
Posts: 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by david2004 View Post
Thanks Paul. I heard about that, but these ants have been around a lot, and I'm very confused about the tree perching!
This happens early in the year when the adults are searching for nest sites, and again later in the year when either the first or second broods have fledged.
Its a kind of excited nest prospecting flight. They are communal birds that tend to nest very close together and this is the birds as a community checking for new nest areas.
This behaviour is common and can be seen at any colony during the early spring/late summer. I have witnessed it many times, it can sometimes happen when the adult birds have just fledged their brood and automatically start checking new areas to nest, instinct to nest must kick in i suppose? It has also happened when in a"house proud area" the owners knock the nests down. That is why they were flying around en masse and flying up to the eaves. The perching in the tree is often replaced in other circumstances by roof tops/cliff tops etc.
ANdy5551 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 1st September 2017, 07:32   #17
mviveash
Registered User

 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Haverfordwest
Posts: 1
Much the same behaviour on our estate, 2 particular homes have swarms of housemartins flying up to the eaves,but just swooping, not perching. Our home is one of the two, we still have this years nest up there. Strange as we have never seen this behaviour before
mviveash is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 11th September 2017, 04:44   #18
jack harnser
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: LINCOLNSHIRE
Posts: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by mviveash View Post
Much the same behaviour on our estate, 2 particular homes have swarms of housemartins flying up to the eaves,but just swooping, not perching. Our home is one of the two, we still have this years nest up there. Strange as we have never seen this behaviour before
Same here in Lincolnshire. Our house has dormer windows and we were woken up by dozens of house martins flying up into the eaves of the dormer. Our bed head goes right up to the window and the birds are only inches away.
We looked carefully to see what they might be after but could see no insects of any kind.
In the end I decided that it was some kind of practice investigation of potential nest sites for the following season.
jack harnser is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
House Martin Question Bluetail Birds & Birding 6 Saturday 25th June 2005 20:23
House Martin swooping - will they nest? david2004 Garden Birds, Bird Feeding & Nestboxes 3 Sunday 12th June 2005 13:59
House Martin disappointment david2004 Garden Birds, Bird Feeding & Nestboxes 2 Tuesday 3rd May 2005 20:31
Open Letter to Sandia Crest House, NM, USA Katy Penland Birds & Birding 30 Sunday 20th February 2005 17:58
House Martin david kelly Your Birding Day 4 Monday 1st November 2004 21:41



Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.22306705 seconds with 28 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 11:17.