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Attracting Common Swifts


The Common Swift is a colonial nesting bird, stimulated by the company of other swifts. We can profit from this behaviour to attract Swifts to new nest places. By playing the calls of nesting Swifts we simulate a colony to attract those Swifts looking for a nesting place.


You can download 4 sample duets here. You can then tape them and play them at your nest box site. Dub the duets a few times, one after the other, and then play them whenever you see Swifts circling around. Play the duets as close as possible to the nest-hole you wish to be occupied by the birds.


There is also a low price CD of Swift calls available which is more suitable for prolonged use:

European mainland sales click here:

UK sales click here:!.htm



Using the Common Swift duets to attract them to a nesting site


These Common Swift calls are duets given by a breeding pair. A breeding pair has to defend its nest place from other Swifts. The duet is a way of doing this. It says: "Here is a female (higher pitched call) and here is a male (lower pitched call), this nest is occupied!"


Swifts searching for nest places look at all suitable holes and cavities, which they can find. They often follow up the activity of other Swifts and are attracted by the duets, because they indicate a nesting site.


Play the screams at the beginning of the Swifts' nesting season, when the breeders and mature birds come back from Africa. Their arrival time varies by latitude. In central Europe and in the UK it is between the final 10 days of April and the first ten days of May. For more precise dates see


You should play the sounds from the Swifts' arrival in your area for about 3 - 4 weeks. By then egg-laying will have begun, and all Swifts who can breed will have found a place.

The second period for attracting Swifts starts about 6 weeks after their initial arrival. This phase lasts until just before the Swifts start their return flight to Africa. Juvenile Swifts, who arrive after the breeding adults, will then be looking for a future nesting place. They may then return to it and breed in it the next and all following years, as they are faithful to their nest places.


Play the calls during the periods when you observe the birds looking for new nest sites. They fly directly to potential nest holes, pausing in mid-air, sometimes clinging briefly to the outer surface of the hole, then falling away again from the apex of their flight into a looping dive. This activity can be seen at any time during daylight except during the late afternoon, when the Swifts are usually away from the colony, feeding.


The loudspeakers should be sited as close to the boxes as possible, you can even mount them inside the boxes. The volume level should be set to sound the same strength as a real Swift's scream, it doesn't need to be any louder.

Common Swifts look for breeding places within their chosen colony, and the best chance of success is always to be had when there are already Swifts breeding nearby. You need the virtues of patience and hope when trying to attract Swifts to a new nest place. Sometimes they will respond immediately, at other times it can take years for them to find and use the nest place.


Ulrich Tigges & Edward Mayer

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