Welcome Back the Swifts

by Handy Mag
Published: Updated:

May sees the main arrival of Swifts. These elegant, fast flying birds cannot fail to amaze and are with us from May to August each year. They will have flown several thousand miles from Africa to their breeding sites in Ryedale. It is remarkable that that they never land on the ground, but sleep, roost and mate in the air.

Swifts can be two or three years old before they breed which is unusual for a small bird. They are long-lived—the oldest recorded being 22 years.

We are fortunate here in Pickering to still be able to enjoy the wonderful sight of these birds, although their numbers are now considered to be precarious.

Even here, we have noticed a considerable decline in the numbers of these beautiful birds gracing our summer skies. Swifts need to catch 100,000 insects a day to feed their chicks, and the decline of the insect population is one of the reasons why their existence is now threatened.

It would be tragic to find that Swifts have vanished altogether. We have the advantage of having many pantile roofs in the area and these roofs are much favoured by Swifts as nesting sites, and they return to the same place year after year. Often, however, these roofs have been sealed. Imagine, after travelling all those miles to breed, to find your nesting site gone!

How can we help? A small group of us is planning to put up nest boxes in suitable sites and we wonder if you would be interested in putting up a nest box at your house or outbuilding? We would be grateful to identify existing nesting sites, if you can tell us if there are any near you, and of any sightings of parties of ‘screaming swifts’.

Help us to S.O.S (Save Our Swifts). Please contact us: Gill Devonshire at gill.devonshire@gmail.com or Alison Lawson at aliswallow08@gmail.com.

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