Swift Diary 2024

Been an 'unconventional' season so far. Two adults arrived end of first week of May. Straight in the box. Very low key for weeks after that, with only occasional sightings, and unlike previous two years, several days of 'screaming' from inside the box. Then last week, regular sightings of an adult flying out of the box. From seeing once every few days to five times in one day....despite having other things to do with my time. Yesterday, a 'pack' of often 4 swifts started approaching the house, checking out martin nests as well as the occupied swift nest. Today it's cranked up further. Had to shut the bedroom window as swifts were getting close to coming in. Came eyeball to eyeball with one of them!

I am assuming at least one is an immature bird. Fledged a youngster in each of the last two years, so one or both could be back this year to see about future nesting options.

Photo below is of one of the 'invaders'. One did get in and a fight broke out inside the box. I could here the battle and after a minute or so, half a swift hanged out the box before it then broke free. They tried again and the photos are from that attempt. An adult was inside throughout. Hopefully it's the 'owner' and any swiftlet that might have been in there is undamaged.

Note the quite pale top of the head of the invader.

  • Quick update. Male house sparrow in the other swift box from a couple of days ago.....minutes before losing the box to swifts. This is the next nest along from the two house martin nests in the previous photo. The sparrow, after much disgruntlement has moved further down the house and has 'taken over' an unoccupied martin nest. One of two unoccupied ones.....so far.

    As of last night, two swifts were still entering that box. Less clear regarding the first swift box, though I was out most of the day. 

  • Good to hear the update on the swifts (and martins on your other thread) and glad both have taken up residence in the dedicated boxes with less sparrow interference this time or a more tolerant sparrow !    With regular trips back and forth to the swift box fingers crossed for successful fledging.      Goes to show with these artificial swift and martin nests we can really help these valuable hirundines.    More nest boxes required now for next year but wouldn't fancy climbing ladder stop that height !!       


    Regards, Hazel 

  • Thanks. The sparrow was back in that swift box today. I think the swifts that entered it are youngsters looking for somewhere for next year. 

    Agreed re height! Higher than the photos suggest possibly as we are on a slope with the back being lower than front. Nests are at the back and needs a fully extended triple ladder. 

  • Fingers crossed for a successful breeding season.

    The swifts here seemed slow to return, though the initial returning swifts weren't too far off their normal date. Yesterday quite a few were observed, so poss some late commers.

    I look forward to the follow up reports, and also follow ups on the housemartins.

  •  Thanks Hazy and Mike. Quick update. Both swift boxes had four swifts exiting them. I am also fairly sure I could hear a chick in the 'original' box a couple of hours later. Today's photo is of a swift that didn't enter the box and seemed to want to enter under the eaves. Suggests it wasn't one of the resident pair. Might have been one of the two in the newly acquired sparrow box that got a bit confused.

  • You're welcome.

    Still got my fingers crossed

  • Quick update. Quiet today due to cold, damp weather. The usual limited amount of to and fro from original box yesterday and screaming coming from 'sparrow box'. There was a male sparrow over that box and the nearest martin nest. Not sure which he was most interested in defending. A martin entered its nestcup and threw out something brown so maybe the sparrow had gone in there.......

  • makes a pleasant change for the house sparrow to be evicted .....   one up for the martins. !!    Fingers still crossed for successful fledging.  


    Regards, Hazel 

  • makes a pleasant change for the house sparrow to be evicted .....   one up for the martins. !!    Fingers still crossed for successful fledging.

    It does make a change, though possibly not unusual.

    I stumbled across this from Julian Hughes, a former RSPB Conwy Reserve manager,

    Don’t mess with a Swift


  • Thanks. Another update as it is sunny outside.......and a sparrow was outside the window for the first time in a while......sure enough, back in the 'sparrow box'. Twice tried to get a photo (would like very similar to one above from 22nd June. He was edgy though so as soon as I left the house, he was out the box like a shot. At least twice he went back in it when I went indoors. Poss there were no eggs in there as they clearly were younger birds looking for a site. I suspect if there were any, (as per the link), the sparrow would have terminated them. No sign of that outside the box though. The original box I could hear last night so signs are still looking promising. Potentially two young but very hard to tell.