If there’s one bird for me, then it is the swift.
If I am reincarnated, that's what I would opt to be.
They barrel around our summer skies in small flocks, shrieking with delight as if our rooftops are their own personal Alton Towers. Life through the eyes of a swift must look like one long arcade game.
But maybe being a swift is not such an idyll – every May when they arrive back from Africa, they find it more difficult to nest.
Hundreds of years ago, they nested in vast ancient trees which furnished plenty of nooks and crannies. However, as mankind has dominated the landscape, they have used our buildings instead, colonising holes, cracks and fissures.
But as our building techniques become better at sealing every chink and gap, swifts find it harder to find a home. Numbers have greatly decreased and the swift is now endangered in the UK. However, it is not hard to offer help.
Newbuilds or extensions can have hollow swift-bricks built in. Existing buildings can have nest-boxes fitted under the eaves.
The church I attend, St Luke’s, doesn’t have much land, but is currently planning a small wildlife garden. When we talked to Heidi from Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust , we discovered we had valuable vertical real estate in the shape of a North-East facing wall, ideal for swift nest-boxes.
So we’ve ordered them now, in time to put up before May.
Let’s just hope the swifts make those lovely excited shrieks when they see them.
For more about helping swifts:
photo by Vika Strawberrica, Unsplash