Wednesday 30 November 2016

Guests of Summer

In 2013 we publicised Enric Fusté's research on diets for rehabilitated Swifts. Despite this, advice continues on various websites and in publications advocating diets that are harmful to Swifts.

Most recently, the otherwise highly regarded book about House Martins, Guests of Summer, by Theunis Piersma contains a short chapter on Swifts again advocating inappropriate practices.

As the book is published by the British Trust for Ornithology, they, the BTO, will do as much as they can to include in their publications, online and in print, advice not to use the information in the offending chapter.

The following words have been drafted for inclusion in all future books sold.

Guests of Summer - vital information for Swift rehabilitation

It has come to our notice that the chapter titled ‘Swifts’, pages 86-88, in the book ‘Guests of Summer’ contains much erroneous and misguided information on Swift rehabilitation and should be ignored.

Contrary to the information given, we now know that Swifts are difficult to care for and require specialist expertise.

Of special note:
Swifts are insectivorous birds, so they need to be fed only on insects. Diets based on any meat, cheese, cat food, or other non-insect food are ultimately fatal (Fusté 2013).

Swifts should not be thrown into the air; the technique for releasing a Swift safely is to find a large open space in still, fine weather, hold the bird in the palm of your hand, raise it high and it should go of its own accord.

If you find a grounded Swift and it refuses to fly, put it in a box on some fabric, and keep it quiet, warm and dark then find someone who is a specialist in this field.

There is a list of people who can rehabilitate Swifts in the UK here:

Basic advice is here:

More comprehensive advice is here:

The RSPCA or your nearest wildlife hospital may be another source of help, but make sure they know that Swifts are insectivores.

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