House Martin Delichon urbicum   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Passeriformes Family: Hirundinidae
BTO Codes: HM, HOUMA EURING No: 10010
Number in Britain: 510 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Declining
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
Subspecies: urbicum recorded in Britain (of 3 subsp. in the world)
Length: 12 cm Wingspan: 28 cm Weight: M/F: 19 g    
Scientific name from: anagram of chelidon, from Gr.:khelidon=the swallow and L.: urbis=a city
World Distribution: BREEDS: Eurasia, n Africa, WINTERS: tropical & s Africa, s Asia
Habitat: Open country, towns
Diet: Flying insects, especially flies (Diptera) and aphids in summer
TitBit: Originally, nesting on cliffs they soon took to nesting on buildings, attaching their mud nest cup under eaves; each up takes up to 10 days to build, and over 1000 beak sized pellets of mud.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos BTO ID Workshop

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: Scotland   Wales   England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 510 thousand Pairs in 2009
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from Devensian (last) glaciation, 10-120,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Newson, S.E. et al. (2008) Journal of Applied Ecology 45:1330-1338
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern, Recent Breeding Population Decline,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern: urbicum AMBER (Recent Decline)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Villages
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
Average Day of First Arrival: 8 Apr
European Population Size:
    Summer: 9.1 to 22 million pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 19 x 13 mm Egg Weight: 1.8 g (of which 6 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 348
Clutch Size: 4 - 5 eggs
Incubation: 13- 19 days   by the: Male + Female
Fledging: 19 - 25days as: Altricial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 2
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.410    (M:0.458 ± 0.044; F:0.362 ± 0.045)      
Juvenile Survival: 0.145 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 1 year Typical Lifespan: 2 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 7 years 1 months 12 days (set in 2002)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: A
Wing Length Adult: 110.5 ± 3.0 Range 106 - 115 mm, N =6214
Juvenile: 109.5 ± 2.9 105 - 114 mm, N =2280
Male: 110.6 ± 3.6 106 - 115 mm, N =1841
Female: 110.3 ± 2.7 106 - 115 mm, N =1716
Weight Adult: 17.84 ± 1.52 Range 15.50 - 20.40 g , N =4215
Juvenile: 17.17 ± 1.54 14.70 - 19.80 g , N =1662
Male: 17.81 ± 1.41 15.60 - 20.20 g , N =1323
Female: 17.90 ± 1.64 15.40 - 20.80 g , N =1309
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Common House Martin
Gaelic: Gobhlan-taighe Welsh: Gwennol y Bondo
Danish: Bysvale Dutch: Huiszwaluw
Finnish: Räystäspääsky French: Hirondelle de fenêtre
German: Mehlschwalbe Hungarian: Molnárfecske
Icelandic: Bæjasvala Irish: Gabhlán Binne
Italian: Balestruccio Norwegian: Taksvale
Polish: Oknówka zwyczajna Portuguese: Andorinho-dos-beirais
Spanish: Avión común Swedish: Hussvala
Local Names: Window Swallow, Martlet

For More Information...

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