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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

Securing a swift return: how a simple brick can help migratory birds

<p>Many swifts flying back to Britain will find their summer nests lost to building renovations. But bird bricks are offering them an alternative home</p><p>Eagerly anticipated by many, it is a thrilling moment when you first hear the distinctive screech or catch sight of the long, tapered wings of the first swifts arriving for the summer. For thousands of years they have looped to the British Isles from Africa to raise the next generation, taking advantage of the long daylight hours in the north and the opportunity to scour the skies for insects from dawn to dusk.</p><p>Since they left Britain’s shores in August last year, these remarkable birds will have flown some 14,000 miles without stopping; feeding, sleeping, drinking and preening themselves on the wing. The birds returning now are likely to be at least four years old – the breeders. They head straight back to their nesting holes under eaves or gaps in stone and brickwork that they claimed and defended last summer. Within a few days their mate will arrive and, having spent nine months living independently, they will start to preen each other’s feathers within the nesting hole, crooning softly and bonding once again.</p><p>House sparrows, starlings and swifts are all at risk because the holes they once used are disappearing. Nest bricks are inexpensive and need minimal maintenance</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/feb/27/geordie-shore-the-kittiwakes-who-call-the-tyne-home-newcastle-gateshead-aoe">Geordie shore: the river Tyne's 'soft, gentle' kittiwakes fly into trouble</a> </p><p>Sarah Gibson’s Swifts and Us, The Life of the Bird that Sleeps in the Sky, published by William Collins, is <a href="https://guardianbookshop.com/swifts-and-us-9780008350635.html">available at the Guardian bookshop</a>.</p><p><br></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/securing-their-swift-return-how-a-simple-brick-can-help-migratory-birds-aoe">Continue reading...</a>

Many swifts flying back to Britain will find their summer nests lost to building renovations. But bird bricks are offering them an alternative home

Eagerly anticipated by many, it is a thrilling moment when you first hear the distinctive screech or catch sight of the long, tapered wings of the first swifts arriving for the summer. For thousands of years they have looped to the British Isles from Africa to raise the next generation, taking advantage of the long daylight hours in the north and the opportunity to scour the skies for insects from dawn to dusk.

Since they left Britain’s shores in August last year, these remarkable birds will have flown some 14,000 miles without stopping; feeding, sleeping, drinking and preening themselves on the wing. The birds returning now are likely to be at least four years old – the breeders. They head straight back to their nesting holes under eaves or gaps in stone and brickwork that they claimed and defended last summer. Within a few days their mate will arrive and, having spent nine months living independently, they will start to preen each other’s feathers within the nesting hole, crooning softly and bonding once again.

House sparrows, starlings and swifts are all at risk because the holes they once used are disappearing. Nest bricks are inexpensive and need minimal maintenance

Related: Geordie shore: the river Tyne’s ‘soft, gentle’ kittiwakes fly into trouble

Sarah Gibson’s Swifts and Us, The Life of the Bird that Sleeps in the Sky, published by William Collins, is available at the Guardian bookshop.

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