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Common House Martin

Delichon urbica
Delichon urbica
Did you know that… ?
  • …common martins differ from swallow in having a less forked tail and shorter tail feathers?
  • …common martins are migratory birds, wintering in southern Africa and tropical areas of Asia?
  • …martins are often eaten by raptors, like merlins and falcons?
  • …common martins can fly at speeds up to 75 kilometers per hour (45 mph)?
  • …people often destroy martin nests, because of the dropping that accumulate under them?
Delichon urbica - image is under CC BY-SA
General info
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Size: 14 cm, wingspan 28 cm
Food: insects
Habitat: on walls, under eaves
Distribution: Europe, Asia, Africa
Relationship with humans: useful

Common martins are one of the most common birds found near human habitats. They live on insects, which they catch in flight. They build their hemispherical nests with narrow entrance of mud and plant material, usually on walls of homes or other buildings. In nature, they are found in pastures and meadows, and nest on steep rock faces. Martins often nest in colonies. Females lay around six whitish eggs, from May through September. Both sexes sit on the eggs, which hatch after about fourteen days. Both parents care for the young, feeding them insects. The young are ready to fly in three weeks to a month, and the parents continue to feed them for a while after they are capable of flight. Martins can live up to fourteen years.