Wednesday 29 May 2024

Swifts Are Here!

Do you see the swifts are here again?
They swoop so low and soar so high
I think there may be more than ten -
do you see the swifts are here again?
We know it's summer round here when
our favourite bird comes gliding by
You see the swifts are here! Again
they sweep so low and soar so high!


We are lucky enough to live in an area of Edinburgh where there are several active swift nests sites. Sadly, numbers of these amazing birds have been severely declining across the UK over the past several years (a decline of 65% since 1995), due largely to a lack of nest sites and reducing populations of insects (their main food source). (See this 2020 article on the Bird Guides website for some thoughts on the factors behind the decline of the swift).

The swifts arrived back in our local area on 14 May this year. In the past couple of days, I've seen about eight of them, swooping around the sky, hunting for insects. This number is more than we saw this time last year, though not as many as we would regularly see when we first moved to this part of Edinburgh. We put up two nest boxes a couple of years ago (we persuaded the roofing contractor to fit them when our last roofing work was carried out). I haven't seen the swifts going into the nest boxes, though they have been flying close. 

I enjoyed watching this video from the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) about how we can help swifts. I played it at quite a high volume with the windows open, hoping that the calls of the swifts on the soundtrack would attract the local swifts to our nest boxes. Another great video from the RSPB is this one, which shows the route of one swift as it flies from its breeding grounds in the UK across Europe and around Africa and back here for the next breeding season, a journey during which it will not land at all! I particularly like this video as it looks as though this swift passed directly over the village where I lived in Malawi for two years!


Sal said...

I love watching them! My favourite place to watch them was, surprisingly, Winchester railway station, but that was many years ago when I used that line, frequently. I’m not sure if they are still there now. These lovely birds certainly need all the help they can get and it’s brilliant that you’ve installed nest boxes; it’s so sad that their decline has been so massive.

Jenn Jilks said...

They are fun!