How to help fledglings and swifts

Wild Wantage bird header


Young birds at fledging time don’t really need “rescuing” – usually just relocating out of harms way. Please don’t immediately take birds away from the scene and try and “rescue” them – just put them in a hedge/tree somewhere safe and leave them for the parent to care for – they are usually somewhere nearby! Birds can be incredibly hard to care for and wildlife rescue places just end up full up with fledging birds that didnt need rescuing in the first place.

This young tawny owl was perched very close to the ground and Mark Bradfield from the Letcombe Brook Project popped him up in a nearby tree out of the rain and away from potential predators. The parents will find it in the evening when it starts calling and come and feed it.

Can you install a swift box?

Swifts fly thousands of miles to breed here in the UK but are in serious decline, partly due to lack of nesting opportunities due to new builds, repairs to old buildings and the demolition of old nesting sites. The short time that they’re in the UK and Europe is the only place they can breed as they spend the other 8 months of the year in flight to and from Southern Africa.

Their numbers are falling drastically as the poor birds try to return to their same nest and become increasingly stressed until they eventually die of exhaustion trying to access their old site. But there are numerous ways we can help them and avoid mistakes when trying to assist them that could actually be detrimental.

Can you help provide a nest space for them on your house? You would ideally need to be in a street where there are already swifts nesting on a regular basis as they are social birds and are attracted to the calls of other swifts. Or you can play swift calls from your house to attract them (click here and scroll down for how to do this).

The boxes would need to be placed at a minimum height of 5m, with clear flightpath to them and preferably on a North or East facing wall to prevent them getting too wet or hot (unless they can be sheltered under the eaves). Click here for more information about swift boxes.

Or anyone can find more information on the RSPB website including  how to make your own boxes.
Please also log any swift sightings on the Swift Mapper app/website.
If you live in Wantage please contact if you would like a swift box or further advice.
Mark Bradfield
Wild Wantage

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