House Martins, like their fellow hirundines Swallows and Swifts (and, if you’re lucky, Sand Martins), are one of the characteristic birds of the summer. They make the phenomenal journey from Africa, where they overwinter, to spend summer bringing up their broods on the glut of flying insects here in the spring and summer months.
But House Martins, like the other hirundines, are in trouble. Their numbers have been declining, for a variety of reasons.
First, there are fewer flying insects, because there are fewer muckheaps in and around the few remaining farms.
Second, there is less mud for them to build nests of.
And third, some people shoo them away when they try to nest under the eaves of their houses.
Luxembourg’s leading nature conservation organisation natur&ëmwelt (nature and environment) is running a census this year of House Martin nests that are still in active use. The aim is to get an accurate idea of how many breeding pairs there still are in Luxembourg, and to compare this with a similar exercise that was carried out ten years ago.
Everyone can help in this census. The English-speaking section of natur&ëmwelt has produced an English version of the census form and instructions, and a quick guide to telling a House Martin from a (Barn) Swallow.
If you think you can help by counting the active nests where you live, please click on this link and follow the instructions. If you still feel unsure about telling your martins from your swallows, just phone David Crowther on 311301. He can arrange a coaching session in Schuttrange. Thanks in advance for your assistance. Remember: every little helps to give us a truly rounded picture.
David Crowther is a volunteer with the conservation group natur&ëmwelt’s English-speaking section. Contact the section via email at [email protected], and sign up to its mailing list here. The section’s full event calendar and registration details are published here.