House Martin

Delichon urbica


House martins are common summer visitors, arriving in April and leaving in October. They build mud nests, sometimes in small colonies, under ledges, on cliffs and, as their name suggests, under the eaves of houses. Both males and females help to build the nest, collecting mud from streams and ponds and building up layers with bill-sized pellets. They are commonly found in towns and villages although frequently seen in agricultural areas. They feed on flying insects and aphids.

How to identify

House martins are glossy black above, completely white below with a white rump and a short, forked tail.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

House martins have suffered declines in recent years due to poor weather and the removal of nests in houses (the droppings can be seen as a nuisance). To keep populations of house martins and other birds healthy, The Wildlife Trusts are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Local information

Seasonal ponds have been created at Chimney Meadows to provide a wet mud source for house martins to make their nests. This nature reserve is part of Upper Thames Living Landscape project area. This project manages and creates habitat on a large-scale, linking wildlife-friendly sites by creating 'corridors' from one site to the next. You may also see house martins at Weston Turville Reservoir, Bray Pit and Foxcote Reservoir.

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Species information

Common name
House Martin
Latin name
Delichon urbica
Swallows, martins, swifts and nightjars
Length: 13cm Wingspan: 28cm Weight: 19g Average Lifespan: 2 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.