Swifts are the most amazing birds. They are the fastest horizontal flyers of any bird on the planet. They can even mate on the wing. They never land except to breed. They are usually in small groups high in the sky or at roof level, when they often 'scream'.
They spend their summers with us in the UK having flown here from Africa. If you want to hear swifts, come to the area around Kidwells Park and Norfolk Road, as there is a big colony around there. They breed here and unless they have suitable nesting sites, they cannot raise chicks. They arrive in late April/early May and leave in late July/early August. They nest high up inside buildings, having long ago nested in cavities in cliffs and in trees. Now they are totally reliant on finding access holes to get inside buildings. Refurbishment and demolition means that swift nesting places are lost locally every year. Swifts are faithful both to their mate and to their nesting place, so return each year to exactly the same spot.
What's happening to swifts in Maidenhead?
Our local swifts need urgent help - their numbers have halved in the last 20 years. They cannot find places to nest and bring up their young, because older buildings they once used have been knocked down and nesting holes they rely on under eaves are being blocked up.
What can I do?
You can put up nest boxes for swifts on your house or any other high building (such as a school or church). Please join the Maidenhead, Marlow and Cookham Swift Group which provides information, advice and encouragement to anyone interested in supporting our local swift colonies and giving them new homes. The group has nearly 100 members and is making excellent progress with establishing new nesting places for swifts. One of its key projects is to establish a swift corridor between Maidenhead and Marlow, to bring back nesting swifts to Cookham. See www.facebook.com/groups/maidenheadmarlowcookhamswiftgroup or www.helpourswifts.org.uk for more information.