Hundreds of young swifts succumb to heat in Seville

by Lorraine Williamson
swifts

SEVILLE – The breeding season of the swift, a protected species, coincides with the extreme heat of the past weeks. In the southern Spanish city of Seville, hundreds of swifts fell from their nests and died or were seriously injured. The holes in the buildings or metal structures where they build their nests have turned into ovens by the heat. Consequently, this is causing them to fall out of their nests.  

Many of the birds have died or been seriously injured. The areas with the most swift colonies are also the worst affected. These include;

  • Tiro de Línea district
  • Los Remedios
  • The airport
  • Seville FC stadium
  • several places in the city centre.

The injured swifts found at the airport are collected by AENA staff and given to a volunteer at the end of the day. This year is the first time that AENA has shown its willingness to cooperate in saving the swifts. 

Could not cope with the influx

Almost 500 swifts were brought to CREA, the Centre for the Recovery of Endangered Birds, this weekend. That was so many that the volunteers could not cope with the influx. Therefore, the organisations Ecourbe and SOS vencejos are also taking care of the injured birds. 

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According to Ecourbe, the swifts are exhausted as a result of the heat wave. Furthermore, if they are not treated with fluid therapy, they could die of dehydration. That is why the association has drawn up the protocol to stabilise the swifts as much as possible before taking them to the CREA, and they also give these instructions to the people who contact them. Ecourbe denounces the fact that the Ministry of Environment of the Andalucian Regional Government has allocated such a small budget to CREA Sevilla. As a result, the organisation does not have the resources and personnel to deal with the peaks that occur every year during the breeding season, in spring and summer.  

Prevention plans 

Ecourbe insists that CREA develop prevention plans, especially in Seville, where the number of swifts is very high, and demands that CREA also work with professionals who know how to deal with all possible scenarios and plan accordingly. At the moment, CREA only consists of volunteers. Part of a prevention plan could be to move the colonies with the most swifts to nest boxes in areas where the temperatures are lower.  

What to do if you find a swift? 

Because it is a protected species, it is a good idea to call the emergency number 112. An environmental agent will then have to come and take the bird to a shelter. When waiting for help, it is ideal to place a shoe box with kitchen paper on the bottom and to drop drops of water on the tip of the swift’s beak. Feed it insects such as grasshoppers, worms and flies, but avoid bread and milk. 

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