Act soon to welcome back our winged African visitors next spring
Our summer visitors will soon be disappearing from the Lincolnshire skies to make their arduous journey back to Africa.
But now is the time to think about making them welcome when they return for next summer.
The hardy little swift will be the harbingers of warmer weather again next year as they dart about your rooftop looking for a place to nest - they will have arrived at your address after a non-stop flight of thousands of miles. Some will have crossed the Sahara.
Swifts like to nest in the eaves, under tiles on the brick ends of roofs, in gaps behind fascia boards and in holes in masonry.
You can maintain your property and still keep a welcome sign out for swifts. You can cut a small opening in replacement cornices, or offset the new cornice with battens so the swifts can enter underneath. Facing boards can have small holes cut into them to let the swifts reach their nests under the roof.
This sort of humane and pragmatic solution costs nothing, You just need to take care to match the entrances with the old ones. Where swifts have nested on the roofing felt under a dislodged tile the nest place can be protected by wedging up the replacement tiles wherever the nest entrances are. The access gap needed by the swifts is just 30mm - less than the thickness of two fingers
Swifts can often be found nesting in gaps in brickwork behind pipes, flashings and gutters. Great care is needed when replacing these items so as not to destroy access. The simplest solution is to keep the holes open and place flashing and pipe brackets so as not to obstruct access.
Try not work on the roof while the swifts are nesting (May to August). Leave existing swift nest places undisturbed by any works. Preserve the swifts' access holes or make new ones to match the old exactly
Any interference with the swifts, their nests or their eggs and chicks is an offence.
It is estimated that swifts fly an average daily total of nearly 500 miles. That's more than 1.24 million miles in a lifetime.
They spend their life almost entirely on the wing and even feed, sleep and mate in flight only landing when nesting. They are good neighbours as they feed exclusively on insects. Parent swifts generate a big bulge in their throats as they collect up to 1,000 insects a time to feed their chicks. They can gather as many as 100,000 insects a day.
They are the fastest birds in level flight, regularly topping almost 70mph.
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