Tuesday, 28 April 2020

The House Martins of Chenonceau


A big flock of House Martins appeared over our house preceding the stormy weather about ten days ago. They have arrived from Africa to breed in Europe, returning every summer to the same mud nests stuck to the sides of buildings. They are a protected species and it is illegal to disturb the birds or their nests.

House Martin and nest, Chateau of Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO, 'Bird Protection League') counted 1335 House Martins (adults and young) in the nesting colony at the Chateau of Chenonceau in 2019, under the roofs or cornices of the castle (particularly on the Tour des Marques, the north facade and the Chapel). In French this charming little long distance migrant is called the hirondelle de fenêtre ('window swallow').

House Martin and nest, Chateau of Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The population figure, up 10% from the previous survey, makes it the biggest House Martin colony in Indre et Loire (our 'county')!

House Martins can be recognized by their smart blue and white feathers: a blue-black upper body and wings with metallic reflections, and a white belly and rump, with a short tail.

House Martin and nest, Chateau of Chenonceau.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Don't forget to look up and watch their antics on your next visit!


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2 comments:

chm said...

There is a French saying, une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps. They might be early on the weather schedule.

It is also said that hirondelles nesting on your house is a sign of good luck. (An early way to protect them?)

Susan said...

There is a similar saying in English: One swallow does not a summer make. It's from Aristotle, apparently.

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