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This is a picture of our new house guests. We were delighted when the House Martins started making their nest on the wall of our house, none more delighted than my husband, he is obsessed with these little guys. Watching the process of nest construction was amazing... little by little they added a small dollop of mud to the wall and within a number of days they had come up with this fantastic piece of architecture. While they built I kept thinking these poor guys were wasting their time, it loked like it would never work, but it did, very successfully.
There was another pair of house martins building on the gable end of the house and they did not fair so well. Half of their house fell down during the building process - maybe they thought they were still in Celtic Tiger times and tried to build their nest too big. We watched with interest for a few days to see what would happen, thought they would have to abandon their efforts and not get to pass their bad-nest-building genes onto the next generation; I was sure one day that they were even attempting a take-over of their neighbours nest (the one below) which at the time was taking good shape. Eventually though the pair seemed to accept the recessional retraints that we are all feeling these days, and continued on with the half that remained. It's not as impressive as this one here but so far so good it seems. They just had to settle with down-sizing from a three storey delux to a one bed apartment!!!
Once the structures were compete, they started to dry and harded. The birds have woven bits of plant fibres in with the mud to add strength and rigidity; both the male and female pair work together to create the nest, I was surprised to see how late into the evening they worked.
These birds are amazing in the air and are happy to spend more time than most birds in it (a subject I will come back to another day). Once the main structure was complete the birds turned their attention to lining the nest with feathers or other soft, light material which they collect from the air or by swooping skilfully to the ground, often collecting such objects "on the wing". The pair are now secure within the nest after this first busy phase is complete. However, they still have a lot of work ahead of them. The female lays four to five small white eggs within the nest and both parents will sit on the eggs until they hatch out about two weeks later. We are keeping a close eye on the nest at the moment (you may even be able to see the top of a black head popping up as we took the picture). I would say it's about time for the egs to htach now, so I will keep you posted....
Labels: air, birds, eggs, feathers, house martins, mud, nature, nests, on the wing, science, skilful flight, structures