Sunday 20 July 2014

House Martins..... quite literally!

Ten days ago my dearest Nadia returned home from work with a parcel tucked under her arm. Mmmmm Krispy Kreme doughnuts I thought, licking my lips. By the look on her face though I knew the box contained a little something that was guaranteed to increase my stress levels rather than my cholesterol levels.

My instincts were spot on. Unfortunately following a severe downpour, a House Martin nest had been washed off the side of someone's home near Sandwell Valley RSPB. To cut a long story short this eventually led to a box containing two House Martin chicks being left on the doorstep of the local nature reserve where Nadia works.

After a quick peek inside the box and seeing two tiny, shivering balls of fluff staring up at me I knew their chances of survival were pretty slim to say the least. Despite our best efforts throughout the evening, neither of the birds would take a single morsel of food. Tragically the smallest of the two birds seemed to slip away first followed by the second bird a few hours later. Sadly, with no sign of life I picked up the box and placed it outside in our yard before I headed off to bed. I would bury the poor little critters in the garden the next morning.

A handful of House Martin chicks!
Photo by Adam Archer

As dawn broke, I made my way downstairs to put the kettle on and fix myself some breakfast before work. At first I assumed I could hear some of our young House Sparrows chattering away outside but suddenly it clicked. I flung open the back door, opened up the box and there with their little, yellow gapes wide open were a pair of miracle martins, recently arisen from the dead. Praise the Lord!

This time they wolfed down whatever titbit of food I could provide them. Insects from the garden, dried mealworms, the odd 'buggie nibble' and even a soaked sunflower heart or two. Nadia was over the moon when she eventually woke up even though she was not too impressed with me borrowing her expensive eyebrow tweezers to feed them with. 

Amazingly as I write this blog, both birds seem to be doing really well. It has taken up a lot of time and effort and we have had quite a bit of help from various friends and family too but ultimately it has been a wonderful experience sharing a home with them and watching them progress.

I have decided to call them Smyth and Scott after two birding Martin's that I know. Sorry but it was the best I could do at the time, what with the stress and the sleepless nights.

Teaching the babies what their real parents look like last weekend.

Perched on the window sill, a sniff of the great outdoors!

Snuggled up on the settee!

Proud mammy, this weekend!

Undertaking their first 'Predator Awareness Training Course'!

Not quite ready to flee the fake 'mud cup' nest!

I was hoping that they would be ready to flee the nest before we embarked on our trip 'down under' in a few days time but I have a feeling they will not be quite ready. Luckily we have some experts to pass them onto though in our absence. I really wish I could be around to see them take their first flight!

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