Monday, October 5, 2009

Fairy Martins

In the early spring the Fairy Martins return to make their nests close by where I live. The birding books say that they nest in the ceilings of caves, in overhanging banks, and in road culverts and under bridges. However, the ones that come here like the eaves of some houses. I suspect that they check out any house where there is no activity outside. Just around from here there are several favorites. These are rental houses that quite frequently have vacant periods. In a very short time the birds will have made dozens of bottle shaped nests under the eaves. They make a terrible mess with the mud they carry in and with their droppings as well. The longer they are left the worse it gets. This year they had just started when the ones looking after the house discovered them and took the nests down. Then they perched on the electricity wires in the street waiting to see if they could start up again. When I walked around that way the other morning they had started again! These are photos I took of the early nests they made and also of the birds perching on the wires along the road.
For more bird photographs visit the Bird Photography Weekly site.


  1. Fairy Martin ... an apt name for these adorable birds. I can understand how their nests being over peoples patios can be troublesome... but what a treat to be so close to them during each day... maybe some kind of eaves like structure could be built more out of the way for them. Great shots in any case... of their nests and on the wire.

  2. Hi Carol, I agree they are cute but I certainly wouldn't want to clean up the house after them. It would need a pressure hose to get the mess off!

  3. They look similar to our barn swallows, and I love watching them swoop over the marsh. I'd like having the martins close by to watch, but not necessarily under my eaves where I'd have to clean up after them. I like Carol's idea of remote eave-like structures for the best of both worlds.

  4. Hi Mick
    I love their popular name of Bottle Swallows.
    Your image captures their bottle-shaped nests nicely.

  5. Nice photos of the nests and the gorgeous birds Mick. I must agree with Carol about building them a place to nest. They are similar to our Cliff Swallow that builds the same type of mud nests.

    In 1918 the US, Canada, Mexico, Russia and Japan enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to prevent taking, killing, capturing or selling migratory birds. This act also grants full protection to any bird parts including feathers, eggs and nests. Here, if the birds begin to build nests, they cannot be removed until after the birds leave.

  6. Hi Wren, Denis and Larry. Thanks for your comments. Thanks Denis for reminding me of the name Bottle Swallow - I had read that somewhere and it certainly is descriptive. Re building them a structure to nest under - that would be quite a major project I think. Certainly more than an individual houseowner could manage. They checked out my veranda area but I was sitting outside and they quickly lost interest - so it seems to be only unoccupied houses they build on. I have also seen them flying in and out of the culvert under the road a little way from here - but of course I can't get good photos under there!

  7. Nice photos, Mick! Bottle Swallows are quite an appropriate name for these birds.