The following information was written by the highly respected Swift expert, Edward Mayer of Swift Conservation (www.swift-conservation.org): "Swifts are amazing, beautiful birds. Supreme aerialists, they spend almost all their life in the air, a lot of that at low level, feeding on airborne insects.
They feed, drink, mate and sleep on the wing, and only land to breed. So a young swift will spend its first two or three years in constant flight before it nests. Because they never land on the ground, and are so fast and so totally aerial, Swifts are very hard to study. There's still an awful lot that we don't know about them, making them real Mystery Birds.
They are here for just three months each summer, then they migrate to Central and Southern Africa to spend their winter there. While they are with us they fill our summer evenings with aerobatic, amazingly fast flight, elfin screams, daring and drama.
Since Roman times, Swifts have nested here in man-made buildings. Originally cave, tree-hole and cliff nesters, they switched their nesting to high man-made structures, under tiles, in the eaves, in lofts, spires and towers. But we are losing our Swifts fast! The UK has lost about 60% of its Swifts in the past 25 years.
The decline of Swift populations can be halted, even reversed. Local authorities in many towns and cities such as Brighton, Amsterdam, Aylesbury, Basel, West Sussex and Zurich have taken action to maintain their populations of these dramatic birds.
Making a place for Swifts costs little. Swifts will use DIY or commercially available nest boxes, and best of all, built-in nest bricks which can be installed into old or new buildings. This doesn't imperil the structure, preserves the birds from extinction, and contributes much to our environment and quality of life.
Architects, Local Authorities, Developers and Builders have a special responsibility to protect the natural world, and Swifts come high on the list of vulnerable species their work may endanger. Minor low-cost coordinated initiatives in design and building will ensure that Swifts still fly in our skies and in our children's skies too"
Gabo Wildlife works closely with Swift Conservation, providing specialist facilities and full rehabilitation for sick, injured or orphaned Swifts across London and Kent. We are working hard to keep our skies alive and give them another chance at life back on the wing, working together to stop Swifts from becoming extinct; never forget, extinction is forever!
Swifts drink by catching raindrops in the air, or by flying low over water, skimming a mouthful from the surface.