grey skies -
the first swift
of the year
Swifts returned to the skies above our area of Edinburgh yesterday!
Swifts only visit Scotland for just over three months in the year (May to August) and spend the rest of the year flying down to Africa and then round and round Africa before coming back to the same nest site. They only land when they're nesting, when the young leave the nest they remain airborne for three or four years before they make their first nest! Swifts are declining in the UK for a number of reasons but one is the lack of nest sites - they nest in holes in walls and under roofs and these days these holes are often blocked up when buildings are renovated. The City of Edinburgh Council (and some other councils in the UK) advise that swift bricks be used in new buildings over a certain height (a swift brick is a brick that is hollow inside and includes an entrance hole so that the swifts can enter the nest) but they can't enforce this. You can read an article about swift bricks in the Guardian newspaper here.
Some links about swifts
Swift starter kits and how adding ‘nest forms’ to swift boxes makes common swifts more than four times more likely to use the boxes - read more on Mark Avery's blog here.
Celebrating swifts with the RSPB here.
Instructions on how to make a nest box for swifts from the RSPB here.