Orphan Swift

David R. writes:

Last Sunday evening Jean and I walked down to the churchyard in Shilton where Jean found a baby Swift in the grass. I took it home and put it in a cardboard box in the dark and contacted a friend who gave me the phone number of a lady who lives in the village of Laverton near Broadway. It was quite active in the box at times, scrabbling around.

In the morning I contacted the lady, who takes in young Swifts and cares for them until they are ready to fly. She gave me details of how to find her. Ian who lives opposite me and his little daughter Imogen, who is very keen on birds and wild life came over to see the bird and agreed to take me with the bird down to Laverton, Imogen was very excited and came along. We found the lady, Gillian, who was waiting for us and took the bird from me. She weighed it and said it was very underweight and did not hold out a lot of hope. Then she took a syringe and fed it some hydrating fluid. It took a lot of this and she said the inside of its mouth was very pink, which was a good sign. It was only two weeks old and had been abandoned, because a number of Swifts bred too late this year.

Gillian said never to give young Swifts solid food – it would kill them. She had seven other young birds there at different stages and one was ready to fly by the end of the week. She had been doing this for a number of years and was very dedicated, they needed feeding every hour or so and came to her from all over the country, an amazing lady.

Unlike other birds young Swifts do not imprint on humans when being fed. She has contacted me since and said my bird was snuggled up to two older birds and was whistling away. With hourly feeds to get it up to the correct weight, she thought it would be ready to fledge towards the end of August. She will keep me posted.