Swifts are back – cue the music!
May is eagerly awaited as the true start of summer – at least in this house – because it bring the return of the Swifts. Almost the last summer migrant birds to arrive, they animate the sky over towns and cities as well as over open country. The sight of them wheeling and darting high in the air is truly invigorating, while their screams as they swoop low around the roof-tops are an essential part of summer’s sound-scape. It was on May 5th that I saw my first swift this year, and now they are back in numbers.
The more I understand about these birds the more amazing they appear. For example after fledging and leaving the nest a young swift may remain airborne for as long as three years before touching down to begin building a nest of its own! Feeding, drinking, sleeping, mating, all are done on the wing. ‘Sleeping’ is in fact hardly the correct term – somehow they are able to continue in flight for hours in a semi-comatose state, often at very high altitude, and well out of the range of predators.
We live in a very old house, and have been thrilled to see swifts diving straight through a small opening into our roof-space on several occasions. We don’t know if they have bred there – there is no way for us to get up so high, let alone see inside. But we are happy to have them there, especially given that nesting sites have become much more scarce as construction methods have changed. Fortunately some house builders are beginning to recognise the importance of providing bird-friendly access to nest space in new developments, so hopefully this decline can be reversed.
It is great to see the swifts back again, and to feel the year turning towards its summer peak. I feel a tune coming on!
If you want to hear the full track why not head over to Spotify and type in Interplay Global? You’ll be able to savour our whole album!