Apus apus (Common swift) - Diary 2017

My notes on the activity of swifts at my house in 2017...


See the main page for notes, photos, and diaries for other years.

You can view live video here from two of the nestboxes (not guaranteed always online, but I try to keep it running).

2017 Swift diary...

The numbered nestboxes can be seen on this photo, and the entrances to the internal boxes on the gable end in this photo.

Activity in inspected boxes 2017 (prediction in red italic; '<' 'less-than' date could be earlier). See all years here
YearNestAdult1Adult2Egg1Egg2Egg3HatchFledge1Fledge2Fledge3Comments
2017#1May-6May-15May-22May-25-Jun-14Jul-262nd egg probably infertile
2017#4May-5May-9May-18May-20May-22Jun-8Jul-20
2017#g3?<May-17?<May-28-<Jun-16<Jul-28Incubating by May-28. Assume two eggs.
2017#g6?<May-17?<May-28-<Jun-16<Jul-28Incubating by May-28. Assume two eggs.

2017-June-25 The answer to yesterday's question: this morning, the 2nd egg was finally displaced from the nest, 11 days after it might have been expected to hatch if fertile. I don't know whether it's been removed completely, or is somewhere in the nestbox out of view of the camera. So finally, the single chick is sometimes alone, with both adults away. It's the first time I've had just one chick being raised on camera (rather than 2 or 3).

2017-June-24 The 2nd egg in nestbox #1 is now 10 days overdue, and, realistically, isn't going to hatch. But the adult swifts still seem to be incubating it, alongside the ever-growing chick. One wonders how long, if ever, before they realise that something's wrong with this egg. At least, with only one chick, they shouldn't have any problem feeding it, even though insect-catching time is being 'wasted' on incubation. Thinking back, my first ever breeding pair of swifts were in this box in 2012 (without camera), and at the end of the season, there was a left-over egg in the box - still seemingly fresh and without an embryo when I removed it in March 2013.

2017-June-19 It seems unlikely that the second egg in nestbox #1 is going to hatch, as it's now 5 days since the first egg hatched. The single chick appears to be doing well, as do the 3 in nestbox #4.

Chicks in swift box #4
Here are the three chicks in box #4 on 19th June 2017, at 11 days since hatching.

I've just seen a prospecting swift clinging onto box #b2 (where I twice saw one enter earlier in the season), but it was kept out by a resident sparrow.

2017-June-15 The second egg in nestbox #1 still hadn't hatched by 15:00 this afternoon.

No change in the 6 gable-end boxes. This afternoon, a swift was 'sitting' in each of #g3 and #g6 (don't know whether eggs or young), but no birds or signs of extra nest-material in the other 4, though (as recorded previously) I've seen a swift in #g4 and #g5, and saw one enter #g1 last night. Perhaps it's time for another check after dark, to see whether birds are spending the night in any of the others - last year, the pair in #g3 produced their first egg on 17-Jun-2016 without adding any nesting material to the concave.

2017-June-14 The first egg in nestbox #1 has hatched.

2017-June-13 Today is the predicted hatching-day for the 2 eggs in nestbox #1, but they haven't hatched yet. I saw the eggs on the video earlier in the day. The 3 chicks in nestbox #4 appear to be doing well - sometimes left unattended in the warm weather.

Twice, in the last few days, I've seen a swift enter one of the two trial 'brick-size' boxes (#b2), as almost the last event before dark. Not the first time I've seen swifts go in these, but who knows whether this is breeding or just roosting. I think that sparrows are nesting in the adjacent #b1.

2017-June-9 The 3rd egg has hatched in nestbox #4, and I've seen all 3 chicks being fed.

2017-June-8 2 of the 3 eggs hatched in nestbox #4 today, 2 days earlier than I had predicted. The weather continues to be poor, with strong winds, but at least less rain today. There has been very little swift activity - maybe not as many changes over of adult birds as there would be if food was plentiful, so I was glad to see a parent return and feed the 2 chicks.

In nestbox #1, the 2 eggs were left unattended for nearly 3 hours - not a problem, but perhaps another sign that conditions for feeding were poor.

2017-June-6 Prolonged rain today, and swifts likely staying at their nests (certainly the ones on camera are). I took another look in the 6 gable-end boxes. As expected, there were pairs in #g3 and #g6, but also a single bird in #g5. It's impossible to tell at the moment whether there might be eggs in #g5, or whether it's still just a solitary bird, but given that the pairs were 'at home' in the other two boxes, it confirms that another bird 'knows' about these boxes.

2017-May-28 I just did a daytime inspection of the 6 gable-end boxes. No activity in 4 of them, but there was a swift 'sitting' (presumably incubating') in each of #g3 and #g6. It remains to be seen whether other boxes are occupied later in 2017.

Later in the day, had a clear view of the eggs in box #1 without a bird in the way. Still 2 eggs, and it's 3 days since the 2nd was laid, so the clutch is probably staying at 2.

2017-May-25 Second egg laid in box #1 today, at 09:00 this morning. Although it's been more common for eggs to be laid two days apart, there have been quite a number with a three-day interval since I've been recording.

2017-May-22 First egg laid in box #1 today, sometime this morning.

For box #4, today was the day for "will there be a third egg, or will they stick with two?". And the answer is: "It's 3 eggs", with the 3rd laid sometime this morning.

2017-May-20 Second egg laid in box #4 today. I first saw it on captured video at 09:25.

2017-May-18 First egg laid in box #4 today. I haven't the interest I once had in looking through endless video to determine exactly when the egg was laid, but both birds appeared to stay at the nest this morning, and I think the egg was laid at 12:33, after which both birds left.

Last night, after dark, I checked the 6 gable-end boxes (inside the loft). There were pairs of swifts in #g3 and #g6 (the two which were used last year), and a single bird in #g4. #g3 and #g6 are the two boxes which birds first entered in June and July 2016 (with one pair breeding successfully), so presumably pairs have returned at the start of the 2017 season.

2017-May-15 At 16:13, a swift entered camera box #1 carrying feathers - I assume the bird which has been here for 9 days. A few seconds later, it was joined by a second one, and both stayed in for the rest of the day and the night. Is this relatively late arrival of the second bird a member of the pair from last year, or a new bird? I have no way to know. The arrival of first and second birds in box #1 on May-6 and May-15 repeats the dates from 2013, the first year I had a camera in the box.

Apart from the two cameras boxes, I have regularly seen swifts entering 4 other nest spaces at the back of the house, and I haven't tried to observe the 6 entrances in the gable.

2017-May-9 At 08:39 this morning, two swifts entered box #4 one after the other. There had only been one there overnight, so this is the first definite pair of the year.

There is still just a single bird spending the night in box #1. As for non-camera places: On 2017-May-6 I saw a swift enter box #2, and guessed from observed behaviour and 'duetting' calls that there was probably one in there already. And on 2017-May-7 a swift entered box #5.

2017-May-6 At 12:47, a swift entered box #1 for the first time this year. Yesterday's swift stayed in box #4 overnight and left in the morning.

2017-May-5 I saw my first swifts for 2017 over the village this morning, and at 19:08 in the evening, a swift entered box #4 for the first time this year.

2017-April-14 I have just been getting the video cameras ready in the usual two nestboxes. I'm going to try a more 'zoomed-in' view this year: the cameras are in the same position, but with 6mm and 8mm lenses, compared to the 3.6mm lenses used previously

Again this year, in addition to the usual 5 nestboxes plus various holes in the soffit which they use, I have 6 boxes installed in the loft, with access through the brickwork in the gable end (photos here).

The two video cameras are now ready for the 2017 season (link to live video above).

This is nestbox #1 in which swifts raised young for the first time in 2012.

In 2013 (with a camera in the box for the first time) they raised 3 chicks; 2 in 2014; 3 in 2015; and 2 in 2016.

The dates of arrival of the first swift in this box were: 2013 May 6th evening; 2014 May 5th evening; 2015 May 6th evening; 2016 May 4th afternoon; 2017 May 6th midday.

This is nestbox #4 in which swifts raised young for the first time in 2014 (with a camera in the box).

2 chicks were raised in 2014; 3 in 2015; and 2 in 2016.

The dates of arrival of the first swift in this box were: 2014 May 7th evening; 2015 May 4th evening; 2016 May 5th evening; 2017 May 5th evening.


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Author: Clarke Brunt (clarke.brunt@viridis.net)
Last modified: 25th June 2017