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When can I paint my house without affecting the house martins nesting there?

Sent in by Jim Waugh, Mouswald, Dumfries

The nests of house martins are a welcome, additional feature of many properties throughout the UK, although they are only occupied for a few months each year. 

Attractive blue-black, black and white birds, each spring house martins travel thousands of miles to enjoy our hospitality. They brighten up our skies as they swoop around catching flying insects, their main food, chattering to one another constantly. 

They arrive in April and May and quickly reclaim and repair their nests or build new ones. During their breeding period they will often rear two lots of young, sometimes three. 

House martins usually leave for their long flight back to Africa during September but, if they do attempt a late brood, their nests may still be in use until early October.

Once the birds have flown and the nests are no longer in use then they can be removed. House martins are now amber listed as birds of conservation concern due to their population decline, so we are grateful to you for thinking about them. 

To help them next year you may consider installing one or two artificial nests once the decorating is completed. 

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