Swifts, once known as the Devil’s bird, spend most of their lives on the wing, only visiting our shores from May to August each year to nest. Now is the time to enjoy watching them soaring on scythe-shaped wings, screaming as they play chase in the Summer skies.
These are also the months when we can record where swifts are nesting, flying in and out of holes in roofs, church towers or eaves. There is a real danger that swift nest holes can be lost during building works carried out in their absence, so recording can help with swift conservation.
Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA), the churchyard and burial ground conservation charity, is asking people to move swiftly and record nest sites in church and chapel towers now. Recording is made easy through Swift Conservation website and their link to a simple RSPB recording form with a soundtrack of the swifts screaming call. Records are passed over to local authorities to help prevent inadvertent destruction of nest sites.
Andrea Gilpin of CfGA said ‘In the past swifts were called ‘Devil's birds’, possibly because of their piercing, screaming call especially when they chase around in groups’. Swifts, latin name Apus apus, find shelter in many of our church towers so the old name of ‘Devil's bird’ is quite apt!’