Statistics for 2015
This year the first swift was spotted around the Museum tower on Monday 5th May. Details of nesting pairs and their chicks will be updated week by week through the summer months. More about swifts in Oxford
See below for the week by week diary.
- 5th May 2015
The first two swifts were spotted this morning, flying around the Museum tower.
- 11th May 2015
The swifts have begun to build nests in 8 boxes. This morning we observed 5 pairs sitting in boxes, and also 3 single adults. We have moved the webcam to one of the boxes with a nest. The box where the camera was located last week is being used as a night roost by one bird; this may later turn into an active nest. It has been a mild, windy and overcast week with some rain showers. The swifts are arriving on the southerly winds.
- 15th May 2015
A mild, calm but overcast day following a wet and breezy week. We have 22 boxes occupied and 21 of these have nests underway. Only one pair and 5 single adults were in the boxes this morning. There are no eggs yet. The swifts arrived on time, but seem reluctant to start breeding. Some warm weather should get things moving.
- 23rd May 2015
There were 8 birds sitting in boxes this afternoon. There are signs of occupation in 25 boxes, of these 21 have nests either built or in progress. 6 eggs were visible in these nests. The cool weather seems to have kept progress slow this season. The next two weeks are critical for breeding with warm weather essential for success.
- 26th May 2015
This morning we saw 14 birds sitting in boxes. There are now 27 active nests, and at least 8 eggs.
- 1st June 2015
The swifts were late arriving this year so they are just starting to incubate eggs. 12 birds are sitting and a pair are probably incubating in another box. 4 boxes contain eggs, but there was no adult present when the boxes were checked today. The cold, wet and windy conditions have taken their toll: there are now only 17 active nests, and some of the nests have had eggs ejected.
- 8th June 2015
This week has been generally dry and warm despite some strong winds. An egg count shows at least 22 eggs are present, but there are only 16 active nests now. We adjusted the camera today - it's still on the same nest, but showing more nest and less box!
- 13th June 2015
The chicks have started hatching this week! There are now 2 tiny chicks in the nest box with the camera. In other nests 2 chicks were visible, and there may well be more where adults were sitting tight. At least 11 eggs were visible. Overall, there are now 22 active nests and 3 boxes showing evidence of roosting birds. The weather was rainy and cold today, but the forecast for the week is fine and sunny.
- 22nd June 2015
There are now just 20 active nests. We saw 14 young swifts this morning, but there were so many adult birds sitting that we don't know exactly how many eggs there are still to hatch. The weather over the last week has been mixed - some showers, some humid warm patches, and still quite breezy.
- 30th June 2015
There are now 28 chicks in 19 active nests. There are also 3 adults sitting and a further 3 eggs visible. Some of the other nest boxes are occupied with roosting birds. The weather is hot and sunny, and set to continue.
- 6th July 2015
There are now 20 active nests. This morning we saw 26 chicks, 3 adults sitting in other boxes, and a further 5 eggs were visible. The weather has been warm and sunny - excellent for the swifts.
- 13th July 2015
There are now 28 young, and this morning we ringed 10 of them. We saw 6 eggs, and there may be a few more with adults sitting. The weather this week has been mixed - some sun, but also windy with showers.
- 20th July 2015
There are now 23 active nests, 3 of them occupied with young birds apparently prospecting for next year. At least 2 eggs are still being sat on, and there are 34 chicks at various stages from newborn and blind, through to a few that are ready to fledge. The chicks we have been watching are about to fledge, so today we moved the camera to a nest with a couple of chicks who are only about 2 weeks old. 12 more young were ringed. The weather has been mixed, but generally mild.
- 27th July 2015
Since last week, 6 young have fledged. 26 young have been ringed and there are 10 that are too small to be ringed yet. This gives a total of 36 chicks this year. 16 nests remain active, but no more eggs are likely to hatch. In one box there are naked, blind chicks which only hatched during the past week. It is interesting that of 7 adults handled, only one had already been ringed.
- 3rd August 2015
Today 10 nests were still active, with 17 youngsters in residence. 3 adults were in the boxes. Because of the weather this summer the breeding season has been extended, so that some swifts have been laying and hatching late. This has meant that some were fledging while others were hatching, which is unusual for swifts. Usually the birds have all left by mid to late August, but we expect to have some here in September this year. The swifts from 5 of the 10 nests will probably leave in about 3 weeks’ time, and from one nest even later. 26 young have been ringed, with 11 still to ring – a total of 37 this year.
- 17th August 2015
Today we moved the camera to a new nest as the 2 chicks we have been watching are just about to fledge. The chicks in the 'new' nest hatched towards the end of July so they won't fledge for another 3-4 weeks. They are the youngest chicks in the tower, but there are still 6 nests active nests, with a total of 7 young.
- 24th August 2015
We have only 3 active nests remaining, with 6 young still to fledge. Four of these will be probably be gone by next week. This was a wet but humid week with a few good hot days as well, perfect weather for aphids and flying ants, good food for swifts. The camera is on the 2 youngest swifts and they are growing rapidly and should leave in early September.
- 1st September 2015
Following a week of sunshine and showers only 2 young remain in the nest and they are showing signs of preparing to leave. All other nests are now empty and the tower is silent apart from these two birds. Young swifts spend 7 to 8 weeks in the nest. These two young are particularly late as they hatched when the first young had already fledged.
- 7th September 2015
Just one youngster remaining now, and he/she will soon leave. The swifts have had a long breeding season due to poor weather early in the year. When the final bird has left we will publish the overall numbers for the year.
- 14th September 2015
During the period of good weather at the end of last week our final young swift departed for Africa. It has been a reasonably successful breeding season despite the poor weather this summer. In total 37 young swifts have fledged this year.
Ringing a swift chick
The average numbers of young swifts ringed each year over the last 50 years are:
- 1963-1972 36.7
- 1973-1982 70.4
- 1983-1992 100.0
- 1993-2002 99.2
- 2003-2012 81.1