Swifts on television are prime time viewing

Swifts are nesting in special nesting boxes in the belfry of St Michael the Archangel Church in Chagford and this year for the first time you can see them nesting.

Two of the nesting boxes have been fitted with tiny CCTV cameras which are linked to a television monitor inside the church which is open to the public.

The boxes were placed behind the ancient stone louvres in the bell tower while the bells were rehung in 2016; you can’t see them from the ground. By the summer of 2017 the first swifts nested in the bell tower, five pairs in total with the same again in 2018.
Each time a least four pairs fledged with two chicks each.

The more swifts nest the more birds return and attract further young swifts to seek a place in the church.

This year six pairs of swifts arrived in mid-May. Far from
common, swift numbers have declined by an overall half in 25 years – the main reason is the lack of suitable nesting sites.

Swifts are an ancient group that spilt from other bird lineages around 65 million years ago at the time when T Rex was dying out and are relatives of the hummingbird.

Swifts fly around 12,000 miles to South Africa and back each year, they mate, eat, preen and sleep on the wing as their feet are all but useless.

The swifts that have hatched this year and flown off will probably be back to nest in the church tower in three years time.

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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