Malta- Breeding house martins disappear (killed)

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Subject: Malta- Breeding house martins disappear (killed)
From: "david camilleri" <>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2002 23:38:54 -0400
This article and photo may also be viewed at

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

< Breeding house martins disappear >
by Natalino Fenech

The house martins breeding in Nadur, Gozo have mysteriously disappeared, some
five days after their young hatched.

Karmenu Buttigieg, against whose home the house martins built their bowl-shaped mud nest, said that at least two eggs hatched two weeks ago as remains of the egg shells were found in the parapet and on the pavement. The adult birds were
seen coming regularly to feed the newly hatched chicks.

But they have not been seen since Thursday.

"We do not know what happened to the birds. They simply stopped coming to the
nest. Maybe they have been killed as it seems rather strange that both could
have died naturally or that they abandoned their young. It is also unlikely the adults have left because their young had died as the adults would have probably
stayed to breed again," he said.

The birds were very tame and not afraid of people. They still went in and out of the nest with people around and children playing ball games close to the nest
did not seem to disturb them.

The pair of house martins was the first to be recorded breeding in Gozo.

House martins were first recorded breeding in Malta in 1981 when two pairs were
discovered in Mosta, just a year after the close season for hunting was

Two other pairs bred the following year at Mdina and Filfla while a pair bred at
Dingli two years ago.

Although this was the first breeding record in Gozo, 69-year-old Mr Buttigieg said he vaguely recalled a similar nest in the cliffs at Dahlet Qorrot where his
family had fields in his childhood.

Mr Buttigieg, who was very happy that the birds chose to make their home next to
his, said he was saddened by their apparent departure.

"The nest is still there in case they want to come again, but in my heart of
hearts I know I am hoping against hope. I think the birds are dead," he said.

This article and photo may also be viewed at

david camilleri

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