People Kept Destroying These Swifts’ Nests So Someone Put Up A Sign To Protect Them

The swift is a truly remarkable little creature – one of the fastest birds on the planet, it can fly at speeds of up to 110kph in level flight and travel an average daily total of 800km. That’s about 2 million km in a lifetime!

For 10 months of the year, these voracious insect hunters won’t land at all. “They feed in the air, they mate in the air, they get nest material in the air,” says Susanne Åkesson from Lund University in Sweden. “They can land on nest boxes, branches, or houses, but they can’t really land on the ground.” That’s because their wings are too long and their legs are too short to take off from a flat surface.

Image credits: jtwood

But swifts are in trouble. Their breeding numbers are in freefall, with the loss of nesting sites playing a big part in the crisis. After spending time in Africa to escape from the harsh northern winters, these migratory birds come back to the same spot each year to breed.

However, they don’t like nesting in trees or boxes. They prefer cliffs, rock ledges, barns or other old buildings, which have nice cozy gaps under roof tiles and eaves.

Image credits: jerseygal2009 (not the actual photo)

Because of our fastidious nature – always renovating, rebuilding, cleaning and plugging gaps, swifts often come home to their specially-chosen breeding places to find them blocked off or destroyed.

This affects them in ways that you can’t imagine, finding a new place that is suitable for nesting is becoming more and more difficult every year. The 53% decrease in their breeding numbers in the UK between 1995 and 2016 has made the swift a moderately endangered species in the country, with a similar decline occurring in other northern habitats.

Image credits: jtwood

So what to do? Apart from ensuring that new nest sites are easily available, the very best thing to do is to leave their existing nests well alone.

Image credits: jtwood

This sign, shared by imgur user jtwood, gives perfect advice on what to do when you encounter a swift’s nest. Written by the employee of an unknown company, one that apparently has a questionable reputation when it comes to conservation and environmental issues, it perfectly sums up the importance of keeping swifts happy, and the harm it causes when people carelessly destroy their homes.

Image credits: jo_garbutt (not the actual photo)

Image credits: hedera_baltica (not the actual photo)

Do you have swifts in your area? Did you know about these amazing little birds? Let us know what you think in the comments, and keep an eye out for our speedy little friends this summer!

Image credits: birdbrian (not the actual photo)

Here’s what people had to say about the sign, and their own experiences with birds nesting around their houses


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