Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

August 2011

This months News



Rescuing a Young Swift

One late afternoon at the beginning of July, I found a young dark grey bird in the churchyard which I photographed and put on a ‘WildAboutBritain’ forum for help with its identity.

It turned out to be a juvenile swift and among the replies was one that said to throw it in the air as swifts cannot take off from the ground. With Barbara along for moral support, I picked up the fledgling preparatory to the launch and we were horrified when several large ‘ticks’ came out from among its feathers. (They turned out to be swift louse flies that suck around 25 mg blood every few days. Nice!!!). We got rid of some of these then tried to get the bird airborne but each time it crash landed and we grew concerned that we were causing it damage. In the end we tucked it high up into the ivy on one of the trees where it was sheltered from the gusting wind.

On my return home there were more replies, one giving the warning that these young birds should never be thrown into the air as their wings are too small to support them! Oh dear!! (The wings apparently need to measure around 16 cm from shoulder to tip before they can fly). There was also a link to a website ‘Swiftcarers’. I called the nearest carer over near Broadway (Gill Westray, a friend of Mary Badger!) and she said to bring it straight over. I collected it from the ivy, put it into a grass lined box and set off into the night wondering if I had finally lost my marbles going on such a trip when I had actually been heading for bed!!!

When I got there I was so glad I had made the effort. The little bird seemed unharmed and happily sat in her hand while she stroked and examined it. She told me that swifts are one of the few wild birds that are comfortable with being handled and, after weighing it she gave it some liquid through a pipette then put in into a propagator with three other small swifts that greeted the newcomer with contented little chirpings. She had several of these boxes, all covered for the night, and was hand rearing all the occupants! A full time job without a doubt!

If you’re interested, the website is
http://www.swift-conservation.org. Many thanks Gill and all on the website for your help.

Jane Smith, member of OWLS group

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Last modified: August 16, 2011