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Swift Box Noise Problem (1 Viewer)

King Edward

Well-known member
Thanks for your reply. I reported this problem to my council and they spoke to my neighbour. He was quite angry with me as he said he is now trying to attract young birds to nest in future years. However, he has now stopped the recording until next year and has directed the speaker upwards instead of directly at my house and also added a volume control. I am thankful that it has now stopped and grateful to the council. I love all birds and wildlife but just found this to be so stressful and also very dismissive of his neighbours. I have since also received a lot of support from surrounding neighbours who were too frightened to complain.
I'm glad you've got this sorted out. I'm a big fan of putting up Swift boxes if the house is suitable, since the species really is suffering from lack of suitable nest sites and they can be really successful, but it sounds like he's been very inconsiderate. Playing calls in August is really pretty pointless in any case.

The advice from Action for Swifts (this page) is that the 2nd half of June and the 1st three weeks of July are the most effective time to play calls - perhaps if he could limit it to this time period in future years, and limit the volume and times when they are on, you might come to a reasonable compromise. Although, your neighbour does sound quite unreasonable.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi,

The advice from Action for Swifts (this page) is that the 2nd half of June and the 1st three weeks of July are the most effective time to play calls - perhaps if he could limit it to this time period in future years, and limit the volume and times when they are on, you might come to a reasonable compromise.

Thanks for the link!

Not entirely consistent with Action for Swifts, this site ... http://www.commonswift.org/Attracting-Common-Swifts.html ... states:

Play the screams at the beginning of the Swifts' nesting season, when the breeders and mature birds come back from Africa. Their arrival time varies by latitude. In central Europe and in the UK it is between the final 10 days of April and the first ten days of May.

The second period for attracting Swifts starts about 6 weeks after their initial arrival. This phase lasts until just before the Swifts start their return flight to Africa. Juvenile Swifts, who arrive after the breeding adults, will then be looking for a future nesting place. They may then return to it and breed in it the next and all following years, as they are faithful to their nest places.

Play the calls during the periods when you observe the birds looking for new nest sites. They fly directly to potential nest holes, pausing in mid-air, sometimes clinging briefly to the outer surface of the hole, then falling away again from the apex of their flight into a looping dive. This activity can be seen at any time during daylight except during the late afternoon, when the Swifts are usually away from the colony, feeding.

The loudspeakers should be sited as close to the boxes as possible, you can even mount them inside the boxes. The volume level should be set to sound the same strength as a real Swift's scream, it doesn't need to be any louder.

Regards,

Henning
 

King Edward

Well-known member
I think the 2 sources are pretty consistent, although April is too early here. Since we're talking about establishing a new colony I don't think there's any point trying to attract established breeding pairs in early May - they just won't be interested.

I'm not certain but I have the impression that the bulk of the screaming parties are made up of non-breeders, since the breeding pairs have more important things to be getting on with.

If there are no noise constraints then I can't see any reason not to play the calls right the way through the May-July breeding season, as loudly as possible, but in this situation I think the best compromise would be to play the calls just at the peak time - both sources suggest this is mid-June to late July.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi,

I'm not certain but I have the impression that the bulk of the screaming parties are made up of non-breeders, since the breeding pairs have more important things to be getting on with.

I honestly don't know. My impression is that the screaming parties grow in size as the summer proceeds, but I'm not sure they have anything to do with scouting as I believe I've seen a scouting pair in June this year, and they were silent. Of course, attracting them with calls might have worked.

The screaming parties seem to aim at the nesting locations the birds already know, but I really wonder which social mechanisms are behind it. If you know a good book on swifts, I'd be thankful for a recommendation :)

Regards,

Henning
 

King Edward

Well-known member
Hi,



I honestly don't know. My impression is that the screaming parties grow in size as the summer proceeds, but I'm not sure they have anything to do with scouting as I believe I've seen a scouting pair in June this year, and they were silent. Of course, attracting them with calls might have worked.

The screaming parties seem to aim at the nesting locations the birds already know, but I really wonder which social mechanisms are behind it. If you know a good book on swifts, I'd be thankful for a recommendation :)

Regards,

Henning
You're right, I don't think screaming has anything to do with scouting as such, in that they are separate activities. I think actual nest scouting can be either a solitary or a collective activity, in that I have seen multiple birds inspecting potential nest sites at the same time at our colony.

Regarding the purpose of the screaming parties, I just found this: Spatial behaviour of the Common Swift (Apus apus) Very interesting - seems to be a sort of collective territorial behaviour.

When we first put our boxes up and were playing the calls regularly, we quickly attracted a group of 4 of so Swifts who would scream past the house on a regular basis - I would assume these were all non-breeders. This took place throughout the first 2 years, during which time I regularly saw Swifts unsuccessfully searching for nest sites (i.e. they would fly up to the nest boxes and cling on to the wall, but failed to find the actual entrances). This continued until a pair eventually occupied a nest box for a few days in late July of the 2nd year. The following year, this same pair returned in May, moved straight into the box and bred successfully for the first time. Numbers have grown since then and there are about 12 pairs I think now in 15 boxes - I need to find space for more boxes.

I don't actually have any books on Swifts.
 

Hauksen

Forum member
Hi,

Regarding the purpose of the screaming parties, I just found this: Spatial behaviour of the Common Swift (Apus apus) Very interesting - seems to be a sort of collective territorial behaviour.

That's an interesting article, especially concerning the use of calls to attract swifts: In the author's experiments, only swifts of the same breeding colony reacted to the calls at all, but not others.

That would seem to put a question mark behind the effectiveness of playing recorded calls to establish a new colony.

Of course, it would be very difficult to build meaningful statistics from experiments with new colonies as the slow rate at which new colonies are settled provides only very little statistical data.

Regards,

Henning
 

King Edward

Well-known member
Hi,



That's an interesting article, especially concerning the use of calls to attract swifts: In the author's experiments, only swifts of the same breeding colony reacted to the calls at all, but not others.

That would seem to put a question mark behind the effectiveness of playing recorded calls to establish a new colony.

Of course, it would be very difficult to build meaningful statistics from experiments with new colonies as the slow rate at which new colonies are settled provides only very little statistical data.

Regards,

Henning
No, not at all. Playing calls has been shown to be extremely effective in establishing a new colony - I know this from personal experience, as described in my last post. Prior to putting up nestboxes and playing the calls, the only Swifts I saw here were the occasional ones flying overhead. Within a very short time of starting to play the calls we were attracting a regular screaming party of about 4 individuals - obviously I don't know if it was the same birds every time, but as far as I can remember they would continue to scream past the house even at times when the calls were off so I think it was clear that they had adopted the house as their territory even before they had actually started nesting.

The nearest Swifts I knew of previously were nesting in a house almost 500m away - possibly there are others closer, but numbers in the general area were definitely low previously. Without the calls, I doubt any of the boxes would even have been looked at by Swifts, let alone occupied.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

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