Resting martins?

For the past few weeks a flock of about 30 Fairy Martins, together with a few Welcome Swallows, have been flying for insects near the Newstead Cemetery. At the weekend I was watching them as it approached dusk (hence the dodgy photographs!) – on a number of occasions the flock together settled on areas of bare ground, rested for a minute or two, then resumed feeding.


Fairy Martin in flight, Newstead Cemetery, 28th September 2014.


Part of the flock resting.


I’m assuming open, bare areas provide a safe resting place from predators.


Fairy Martins have chestnut heads – distinguishing them from Tree Martins.

This species makes its bottle-shaped mud nests under bridges and in road culverts. At this time of year they can be observed collecting pellets of mud from puddles to construct their nests. These birds were not obviously collecting material so I’m a bit perplexed by their behaviour. I’ve seen them doing this previously, as I have with swallows – perhaps they are just finding a safe resting place?

3 responses to “Resting martins?

  1. When I did the bird biology subject at Charles
    Sturt Uni ( Ornithology- I highly recommend it!) I was delighted to learn that there is a scientific term for bird behaviour that does not involve preening, sleeping, feeding, courting, or anything: and it is called loafing!

  2. Thanks Tanya – these ones did indeed look to be loafing!
    Cheers, geoff

  3. I have a very ‘Anne Elk’ theory. Spring in Central Victoria = anything from freezing to ‘where is the fire plan?’ and sometimes both in one day. Swallows and martins seem to expend energy way beyond their possible reserves when hawking for food. Perhaps, stopping down for a while on a patch of bare but previously warmed soil might be enough to get a small bird back up and hunting again?
    I also have another theory… activities (especially male against male mating rituals) got recorded by 18th-19h century biologists while inactivities didn’t get recorded at all. For we humans, a third of the day is spent in bed/sleeping. Then add to that time spent ‘loafing’ during the day. Same with other critters. Ants, which look so extraordinarily busy when we see them foraging, sleep and/or loaf in their nests much of the time.

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