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A summer migrant to the UK, house martins can be spotted making their mud nests under the eaves on the outside of buildings. A social bird, the house martin nests in colonies, and spends most of its time on the wing catching insects. They can also land on the ground, where they will collect mud for the nest. If there's little rain during springtime they can sometimes struggle to find mud, so will cluster around suitable puddles.
House martins are small, with glossy blue-black plumage above, and a white chin, throat, underparts and rump. Their wings are dark grey in colour, as is their tail. The tail is forked, and they have short white feathers covering their toes and legs.
Their favourite food is flying insects, and they spend most of their time catching them mid-air. Their diet is almost exclusively made up of these insects, but if you're looking for a supplementary food to entice them into your garden mealworms could tempt them if other food sources are scarce.
House martins are prolific breeders, often raising anything between two to three broods in a year. Sometimes the young birds from the first brood will stick around to help feed the young from later broods.
Each house martin nest is made up of at least 1,000 beak-sized mud pellets. Successful nests will be repaired and used again in subsequent seasons, but house sparrows often take over old house martin nests.
Swallows are similar in build to the house martin, and when the birds are in flight people often mistake house martins for swallows due to their forked tails. Swallows, however, have much longer 'streamers' than house martins, so even when in the air it should be simple to tell the difference between the two. They can also be mistaken for swifts.
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