Wednesday 5 February 2014

Little Swift colony rescue

This is a reblog, with kind permission, of a report which appeared in the October 2013 issue of the Birdlife South Africa e-Newsletter. It is a heartening story about the rescue of a colony of Little Swifts, Apus affinis, in a building in Rustenburg, a city situated at the foot of the Magaliesberg mountain range in North West Province. It shows what you can do if you:
[1] approach the property owner in the right way;
[2] win the trust of the builders;
[3] add a little gentle pressure by involving the local media.

Little Swift in the hand   

Members of BirdLife Rustenburg were first alerted to a bird problem when we received a call from a property agent. The agent stated that there were a lot of swallows with chicks in an old motor dealership that was being converted into a shopping complex. The builder had been instructed to close off the original entrance by building two walls. The builder had spoken to the agent, saying that if he completed the building then the young swallows would be trapped.
On visiting the site, it was found that there was a large colony of Little Swifts present. It was obviously not breeding season but the builder had based his comments on the bird’s small size. We immediately commenced negotiating with the new owner to delay a portion of the building operations.

Ringing at the Little Swift colony
In order to add force to our negotiations, the local newspaper (Rustenburg Herald) was called in and they immediately ran the story. A compromise was reached with the new owners, who agreed to suspend building the final section until early summer. At this point it would be warm enough for the swifts to relocate.
One of our new members, a registered ringer, suggested that we ring the birds. All in all about 100 Little Swifts were ringed and again our local newspaper ran the story along with pictures of the birds being ringed.
A successful venture and we now wait with a little trepidation to see where the new colony will be formed.
View of Rustenburg, North West Province, South Africa