The arrival of the swifts transforms the soundscape of Palma, announcing good weather and the beginning of summer. This irreplaceable bird needs our help to ensure that we can remain neighbours and friends for many years to come.
In Palma, during the summer, the very air above our heads comes alive with the acrobatic flight and the cries of a remarkable bird that returns to us every year from Africa, and has done so for thousands of years. The swift transforms the soundscape of cities, reminding us that summer has arrived. We cannot imagine a summer without the sound of swifts.
Swifts live much of their life in the air hunting small insects. They even sleep in the air, with only breeding pairs perching on a cliff or building while nesting. The pairs mate for life and every year they return to their favourite buildings and the same nesting sites to raise their young.
Unfortunately, a recent survey by SEOBirdlife shows a decline in the population of 27% in the period from 1998 to 2020.
The remodeling of buildings in the historic centers of towns and cities is one of the main causes of local decline and extinction. The substitution of traditional materials for modern elements and new construction techniques mean the destruction of traditional nesting areas. Restored and newly constructed buildings do not have cavities that can be used by birds. Often times, the works coincide with the time when the birds are incubating or feeding their young.
Identifying nesting sites in our towns and cities is the first step to prevent the disappearance of swifts. Knowing the nesting places, guidelines can be applied so that the rehabilitation of buildings conserves the holes where swifts nest and ensures that no works are carried out during the nesting period. Nest boxes can be installed in buildings to replace destroyed nests and to encourage new pairs to breed. It is vital that municipalities, architects, surveyors, corporate and private owners participate in the preservation of common swift colonies.