With 20,000 breeding pairs of swifts, Berlin has the largest population of these birds, which spend almost their entire lives in the air. In order to preserve the population and to save orphaned young birds that leave the nest prematurely, the Berlin State Association of the Nature Conservation Union (Nabu) has developed a pilot project with the Berlin Building Cooperative (bbg). However, he is also dependent on the cooperation of other property management companies and homeowners. In addition, the Nabu, in cooperation with the wild bird station, is looking for buildings on which incubators can be attached.
The pilot project involves 14 specially designed incubators in the attic of a residential complex in Mitte. These boxes are accessible from inside the house and can be opened inwards so that orphaned young birds can easily be placed inside.
“As the first Berlin initiative of this kind, the cooperation should enable the team at the wild bird station to house orphaned young swifts in a natural environment in the coming years,” said a Nabu spokesman in a press statement. Common swifts have just returned from their African wintering grounds. The background to the action is the increasing heat in a city like Berlin.
The nesting places of the birds in niches and cavities under the roofs of the city heated up so much that the young birds jump out of the nest prematurely. However, according to the Nabu, the chicks, who are not yet able to fly, have no chance of survival without parental care.
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Every year, reports the Nabu, the wild bird station receives hundreds of calls from concerned people who have found orphaned swift chicks. So far, however, the possibilities for help have been very limited.
Raising young swifts by hand is difficult and takes a lot of time because the young birds have to be fed every hour. And since the number of moulting swifts in need of help continues to rise, the employees at the wild bird station are increasingly at the limit of their capacity. That is why the adoption process was developed. Young birds are placed in other intact swift broods.
If the size of the brood and the age of the young are suitable, the parents usually accept the foreign chicks without any problems. However, says the Nabu, most swifts’ nests are not accessible to helpers.
For this reason, one is dependent on the help of property managers or homeowners. The Nabu is looking for buildings in Berlin that are suitable for attaching the boxes, such as buildings with sash windows in accessible roof structures or in other high places that are accessible to employees of the wild bird station. The Nabu assumes the costs for the construction and installation of the boxes.