Swifts

OK, OK,  Don’t get excited. We are talking about birds here, not a certain female singer. Sorry!

Anyone who lives in the Freehold area of Lancaster for a summer is familiar with Swifts.

On a warm summer evening the sky above Freehold is full of these extraordinary birds, flying at ridiculous speeds as they chase insects, ‘screaming’ as they do so. It is one of the ‘sounds and sights of summer’ for anyone living in our area.

Swifts are one of the most extraordinary birds we see in Britain. Did you know…..

  • Swifts are believed to be a very ancient species and are unique in the bird world.
  • Swifts migrate (which is why we don’t see them for the rest of the year). They fly to Southern Africa and back every year (about 14,000 miles), a trip which takes them only about 4 weeks in each direction.
  • They are fast – they have been speed-checked at 70 mph which makes them the fastest of all birds, in level flight.  They are known as the ‘jet fighters’ of the bird world because of their speed and manoeuvrability.
  • Swifts rarely stop flying, only coming to the nest to feed their chicks. Everything else is done ‘on the wing’! How they manage to sleep is a bit of a mystery. It’s probably by having a system to turn off half of the brain, while the other half continues flying. (Humans could benefit from this system!)

Unfortunately, we seem to have lost more than half our swifts in recent years. Fewer insects to eat is a big problem, due partly to use of pesticides in fields and gardens. (Miss Whalley’s Field is a small contribution to increasing the number of insects.) A shortage of nest sites (typically in the eaves of houses) is another, and many local people have installed special nest boxes for them, (though the swifts have been rather slow to occupy them, according to reports!)

Now there is a new initiative to help the Swifts: Lancaster is to be a Swift City!

You are invited to the Declaration of Lancaster as a Swift City by our current MP, Cat Smith, on…..

Friday 7th June at 10am on Grasmere Road (LA1 3HE), near No 24.

Everyone is very welcome and refreshments will be available!

All we are saying is………. Give Swifts a Chance!

Share