Saturday, 15 May 2010


As swifts become ever more scarce and publicity about them rises, I seem to be noticing them more and more.I've seen quite a few this year, mainly on migration where they are flying more deliberately in one direction across the countryside or swarming temporarily over a reedbed. On Thursday I was parking up in Clifton and could hear a more shrill scream of a swift and I looked up to see one flying up under the eaves of a large Georgian house. As I watched further it was having a few attempts at this before eventually I saw it disappear into a hole,  its long tapering wings slowly slithering right in! As it continued to scream, another swift flew low along the house - no doubt a potential mate or another swift on the lookout for a nest site. Here's hoping they successfully breed.

A little earlier I had been at the zoo where they've got some swift boxes set up but I don't think there's any nesting yet - the key to getting swifts into these nests boxes can be to play their screaming sounds which makes it sound as though there are lots of them around! As they come to investigate, they realise the boxes are empty and may well take up residence. It takes a bit of persistence but I know from others in Bristol it does work.

There are some good features this month about swifts in the RSPB's Birds magazine and also birdwatching magazine. There's also more information about how you can help swifts at

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