Visual Search | Wizard | Browse
Bird name:

House Martin

Delichon urbicum




Swallows (Hirundinidae)





Euring 5

iBird Ad

Breeding Location:

Farm buildings, Bridges, Riverbank cliffs

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Colonial

Egg Colour:


Number of Eggs:

4 - 6

Incubation Days:

13 - 19

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Mud pellets and lined with grasses, hair or other soft materials.

Nest Location:

On the walls and under the eaves of houses and buildings, also uses sea cliffs.




House Martin: Small swallow. Glossy blue-black upperparts contrast sharply with white-grey underparts. Mantle, crown, a metallic dark blue; wings, tail black-grey. Solid white rump. Legs covered in white down. Female has slightly greyer underparts; Juvenile duller, with brown crown, white areas tinged with grey.

Range and Habitat

House Martin: Summer visitor to most of the UK and Ireland, more common in the south and east. Arrives in April and leaves by October. Winters in tropical Africa. Found in varying open habitats, from sea cliffs to lowland farms, also seen in towns and villages. Often perches on utility cables.

Breeding and Nesting

House Martin: Builds cup-shaped nest from mud pellets, feathers, and other light materials on vertical surfaces beneath protective overhangs. Often colonial. May reuse nests. Up to three broods per season; four to six white eggs are incubated for 13 to 19 days by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

House Martin: Flies for hours hunting insects. Prefers flies, aphids, beetles. Sometimes feeds while perched or clinging to vertical surfaces.


House Martin: Song a chattering twitter with hissing or buzzing notes. Call is a chirping "prrrtt, prrrtt, prrrtt."

Similar Species

House Martin: Sand Martin lacks white rump and has breastband.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The upper surface of the back and wings covered with shorter feathers.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX