July 14th- Swift Diary

Swift Diary
Our colony now stands at three pairs. We have gained on average a pair each year, though this is a bit misleading because the first pair bred in 2019. They bred again in 2020 but we didn’t gain any new pairs or even have any substantial interest in other boxes. This year our pair has been joined by two more pairs. They are all nesting in nest boxes alongside each other.

Pair 1- now with chicks 28 days old
Pair 2- first entered nest box on 9/6/21 now has chicks 5 days old
Pair 3- has occupied a nest box since 8/7/21

Today has been the best swift watching day of the year. Besides the three pairs up to eight carve up the air above the garden. Some very impressive low and fast screaming parties and prospecting of nest boxes. Swifts are attracting swifts and the airspace above our house is mesmerising at times with double figures of swifts and a similar number of house martins. The two species mingle well and circle together in threat when the local sparrowhawks visit gardens below them. At this time you can hear a swift’s alarm call, a loud single piping note.

I have been studying the ‘v’ display today. This happens when a bird is tailed by another, its wings are held right up in a ‘v’ shape. The displaying bird loses height quickly in this position so the ‘v’ is very quick, but it is beautiful to watch. We have no idea why they do it. I have seen it performed by one of a prospecting pair, but I have also seen it performed to another by a breeding bird while its mate was in the nest box.

The next few days look like being some of the best of the summer for watching swifts. We are probably just inside three weeks away from the bulk of swifts departing now. Imbibe every moment with these birds.


5 thoughts on “July 14th- Swift Diary”

  1. Fascinating descriptions of Swift behaviour – in words and beautiful pictures!

  2. Lovely – do you think they V shape could have anything to do with courtship display or slip stream – air pressure? Great observations

    1. The v display is used in many different situations. I have seen breeders with partners using it in front of other birds, Prospectors doing it to following birds. So it could be friendly or hostile. They can only hold this pose momentarily because they lose height quickly. But generally it is used to signal to a following bird.

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