House martins are a familiar sight in villages and towns, building their cup-shaped nests on the side of buildings.
House martins are similar in shape to swallows, but with a shorter forked tail. The upperparts are black, and the head and shoulders are glossy dark blue. The rump and underparts are white.
They are found throughout Europe, Asia and North Africa.
House martins breed colonially, building nests on the sides of houses or rocky cliffs.
They hunt flying insects.
Adults fly at high speeds catching small airborne insects. House martins are a migratory species, spending from October to April in Africa and returning to Europe to breed in the summer.
The nest is built under overhanging ledges on the sides of buildings or rocky cliffs. It is slowly constructed using small lumps of clay or mud and is sealed except for an entrance near the top. The presence of a house martin nest is often indicated by a splattering of bird faeces directly underneath. For this reason many nests are routinely destroyed by house owners.
The females lay 4-5 white eggs and the pair takes turns incubating them. The eggs hatch after 12-14 days and the young are fed for 20-23 days. A pair may have two or three broods in a year.
House martins are not listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
House martins are noisy birds, especially at colonies. They emit an incessant twitter, and the song is basically a burst of chirps.