The distribution of breeding House Martins was examined in relation to the characteristics of the urban landscape and the structure of the buildings. The study area (73 km2) was divided into 700 × 700 m squares. 11 habitat characteristics were measured within a 300 m radius around each colony. Each nest site was classified according to nest-support-type, its height and orientation. Habitat features around colonies were compared with places at the center of those squares without colonies. Stepwise multiple regression was then used to assess the possible contribution of the independent variables to the size of the colonies. A total of 1399 nests were found, distributed in 120 colonies, mostly consisting of 1–5 nests. In the built-up area, the density reached 31.85 nests per km2. House Martins selected areas with a larger proportion of old buildings and open spaces, and closer to the nearest sources of food or mud. Only the distance from colonies to the nearest mud source and the proportion of open spaces were included in the regression model. As far as nest-sites are concerned, 33% of all nests were built under eaves, 34% under the ledges of balconies with architectonic ornamentation, and 15% within balconies. Birds selected nest sites offering better adhesion of nests to the substrate; to compensate for poorer adhesion, the number of nest walls touching other nests was increased. There was a positive relation between nest site height and building height. Nests were not uniformly distributed around the circle, but no clear patterns emerged from the data.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2