What makes this little bird so special?


Here are a few facts about the swift:

  • Swifts are only in the Netherlands for three months each year: May, June and July. They breed here, and then spend the other months in Africa.
  • A swift couple and their babies catch approximately 20,000 insects per day. There is no better or more environmentally-friendly insect repellant!
  • Their Latin name, Apus apus, means ‘without foot’. Swifts do have feet, but they are small, curved claws that allow them only to shuffle around a bit.
  • They spend more time aloft than any other bird in the world: they even sleep in the air, landing only to breed or in extremely bad weather.
  • The swift is the most sophisticated flyer among all birds, reaching speeds up to 120 kilometres per hour and distances of up to 1000 kilometres per journey.

What can you do to help the swift?
Here are some ways you can help this special bird:

Report renovations. If you know that swifts breed in a building that is being or will be renovated, there is a good chance that the Flora & Fauna Law will be transgressed. One solution is to hang up nesting boxes from the scaffolding.
The swift is a protected bird: make sure to report transgressions of the Flora & Fauna Law. You can report a transgression by calling the city district 14020 or contacting Natuur&Milieuteam Zuid. Nests should not be disturbed or removed, not even outside the breeding season!

Report breeding places and colonies, and take part in inventories. If we know where swifts breed, we can demand replacement nests when buildings are being demolished or renovated. Here is a map of Amsterdam’s swift colonies.

Hang up nest boxes, ideally fitted with bird calls to attract swifts.

Amsterdam also has a group of volunteers dedicated to protecting Swifts. Contact Amsterdam Swift Working Group if you are interested in joining.

Links for further inspiration