Swifts are those dark coloured streamlined birds with long pointed wings, which speed and scream over the rooftops of our buildings in the summer.  They are with us for just 3-4 months each year, bringing drama and excitement to our streets and skies.

They have a fascinating way of life and a number of curious habits – such as being able to fly while sleeping!

One amazing fact is that a fledgling chick must launch itself from the nest flying immediately, and from that moment it’s on it own. It will fly non-stop for up to 3 years before it will land again to attempt to breed, a truly remarkable bird!

Swifts nest in buildings, with the largest colonies being found in old factories, churches and hospitals, but they will use houses as well.  They nest in the eaves and in deep cavities.  Holes around pipe-work, behind worn masonry, and missing bricks and tiles provide good nest places.  About an hour before sunset, as darkness falls, the swifts will swoop down from circling around the building, and dive suddenly into their nest for the night.

We know very little about our swifts and their colonies and would be delighted to hear from anybody that knows of any colonies of swifts breeding in the Causeway Coast and Glens Council Cluster area.  If you are out for an evening stroll or even sitting in your garden, keep an eye on the swifts overhead, and see if you can spot any that appear to be returning to their nest.  The only information the Biodiversity Officer needs is when and where the swifts were sighted, and how many (if any) were observed entering their nests. – However, please do not disturb them in any way, just admire these spectacular birds from afar.”

Image Courtesy of Geoff Campbell