Appeal of a resident of Beek:
Will you also help the young Common Swift?
I've been enthousiastic about the bird species the Common Swift (Apus apus) for a long time. It's a true aerial acrobat and a very special bird species.
The entire life of the Common Swift takes place in the sky. Breeding is the only thing that requires landing; eating, preening, gathering nesting material,
mating and even sleeping is done flying!
All of this is done in our country as well for little over three months (end of April 'till the beginning of August). The rest of their flying life takes
place in Africa.
Directly after leaving the nest, young birds fly for over 7000 kilometers while they have never been able to train properly in the nestspace, other than
doing push-ups to train their wingmuscles.
Common Swifts only scarcely nest in natural places these days. Over time they've become almost completely dependant on man-made structures.
These birds nest in Beek, Ubbergen, Ooij and other places in the area as well, in Beek in Koningsholster and Blekershof for example. They nest under
rooftiles, but mainly in holes behind gaps and slots, often in somewhat older buildings, but when possible also in younger buildings. Not often in new
buildings though, because as is the case after renovation or demolision, newly built houses are often tightly sealed, leaving no room for Common Swifts or
any other bird species for that matter. This is why some Swift-lovers put up special Swift-nestboxes. As did my girlfriend Lisette and me. Fairly soon after
we'd moved into our house in Beek I built nestboxes which we've put up under the gutter.
The boxes have to be placed high, as Common Swifts need a height of approx. three meters to make a free fall in order to rise to the sky. They have feet
that are specifically made for hanging, walking and sitting is not easy for them. They can't, like other birds, sit on a branch in a tree. The wings were
for flying fast, up to 120 kilometers per hour. The wing's shape also causes that only a little lift is created. That is why the free fall is needed; the
wind that gets beneath the wings during the fall can give a Common Swift enough speed to fly off.
I could continue for a while about this special bird. But I'm actually asking for your attention for an outrageous event that took place in Antwerp. A
building in the harbor that housed a very large active colony was demolished, 150 nestplaces were destroyed. Over 100 dead birds. The young would have
fledged in two weeks!
Nestplaces are regulary destroyed during renovation of demolishment in the Netherlands as well. The law clearly has shortcomings! Nesting birds are protected
by the law and may not be disturbed. But when a permit for renovation or demolision is requested there is no check whatsoever if nesting birds might be
threatened. This way nestplaces aren't found until they've already been severely disturbed or even destroyed.