House Martin - Delichon urbicum

Alternative names
Delichon urbica

The House Martin is a small bird with glossy blue-black upper parts and pure white under parts. It has a distinctive white rump with a forked tail and, on close inspection, white feathers covering its legs and toes. Juveniles are duller with little or no gloss and have pale tips to the tertials. It spends much of its time on the wing collecting insect prey.

Identification difficulty

Mostly associated with man, found around towns and villages. Feeds on aerial insects and so is most frequently seen in areas of mixed agriculture, near water and in the vicinity of woodland.

When to see it

They return to the UK in April, often feeding over wetlands for a while before returning to their traditional nest sites, remaining here until September and October before migrating south.

Life History

The bird's mud nest is usually sites below the eaves of buildings. They are insect eaters, taking their prey on the wing.

UK Status

They are summer migrants and spend their winters in Africa. Although still numerous and widespread, recent moderate declines earn them a place on the Amber List.

VC55 Status

A fairly common nesting bird in Leicestershire & Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map