House martin at nest in barn

Damaged or broken nests

Occasionally a house martin nest may fall with the young still inside it.

How to help

A substitute nest may encourage the parents to continue to feed them. A strong box or wall hanging container, deep enough to prevent the young falling out, is usually successful.  

An easy replacement can quickly be made from a four-litre ice cream tub. Cut an entrance in one long side, 25 mm deep and 60-65 mm wide, and make two small holes for fixing on the opposite side of the box. Roughen the surface beneath the entrance hole to help the young birds scramble up to the opening.

Make two small drainage holes in the bottom of the tub and then put in the remains of the old nest (if you have it) or add hay to the tub. Fix firmly in place as near to the original site as possible and then add the young birds and replace the lid.  

The cries of the young usually encourage the parents back very quickly. If the tub is high under the eaves, the lid may be left off.

When the nest cannot be reattached, or chicks have fallen out of an inaccessible nest and cannot be returned to it, the young will be dependent on human help for their survival. Hand rearing young house martins is difficult and time consuming and should be taken on only as a last resort. If possible, the young birds should be passed on to an expert rehabilitator.

House martin adult collecting mud