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Swifts not sitting on eggs (1 Viewer)

Luna06

Member
Spain
Hi,
I have swifts in a nest box and their behaviour is rather strange.
Two years ago I had a pair that raised 2 happy, healthy chicks. They sat on the eggs constantly and were very present parents.
Unfortunately, that pair died last year and a new pair moved in a couple of weeks later.
The new pair added to the nest and laid 2 eggs. However, they then moved the eggs out of the nest and just kept rolling them around the box. They would also leave the box in the morning and spend the whole day out, leaving the nest unattended, before returning at night. Needless to say, the eggs never hatched. I presumed it was because they were young and 'practising'.
This year, what I presume is the same pair, has returned and is doing exactly the same. The eggs appeared a few days ago and they are continuing to spend the whole day out, just coming back at night and rolling the eggs around the box. They even sit on the nest, but with the eggs elsewhere. Is it normal for them to take a few years to get it right?
 
Hi,
I have swifts in a nest box and their behaviour is rather strange.
Two years ago I had a pair that raised 2 happy, healthy chicks. They sat on the eggs constantly and were very present parents.
Unfortunately, that pair died last year and a new pair moved in a couple of weeks later.
The new pair added to the nest and laid 2 eggs. However, they then moved the eggs out of the nest and just kept rolling them around the box. They would also leave the box in the morning and spend the whole day out, leaving the nest unattended, before returning at night. Needless to say, the eggs never hatched. I presumed it was because they were young and 'practising'.
This year, what I presume is the same pair, has returned and is doing exactly the same. The eggs appeared a few days ago and they are continuing to spend the whole day out, just coming back at night and rolling the eggs around the box. They even sit on the nest, but with the eggs elsewhere. Is it normal for them to take a few years to get it right?
Can I ask how you know?
 
Can I ask how you know?
That they died? Unfortunately they died in the nest box. They came back last year and were as busy and shouty as normal for about a week. Then I noticed they were a bit quieter than usual but didn't think too much of it. When I started to worry about just how quiet they were getting, I had a look and one had stopped breathing. The other one stopped breathing a few hours later. There was a lot of watery excrement in the box, so I'm presuming illness or possibly poison from something. I cleaned out the box as best I could without using chemicals of any kind and just hoped it would be all ok for this year. A few weeks later the new pair moved in and they seemed to be perfectly healthy, just not quite sure of what they were supposed to be doing.

I should explain that the nest box is actually in my kitchen – on the floor against an air vent –, which is why I can hear their movements so clearly and am able to view them with a camera.
 
That they died? Unfortunately they died in the nest box. They came back last year and were as busy and shouty as normal for about a week. Then I noticed they were a bit quieter than usual but didn't think too much of it. When I started to worry about just how quiet they were getting, I had a look and one had stopped breathing. The other one stopped breathing a few hours later. There was a lot of watery excrement in the box, so I'm presuming illness or possibly poison from something. I cleaned out the box as best I could without using chemicals of any kind and just hoped it would be all ok for this year. A few weeks later the new pair moved in and they seemed to be perfectly healthy, just not quite sure of what they were supposed to be doing.

I should explain that the nest box is actually in my kitchen – on the floor against an air vent –, which is why I can hear their movements so clearly and am able to view them with a camera.
It would be incredibly, unlikely for two, previously healthy, adult birds to die on the nest. Have you considered that they may have actually been the young birds which IMHO, is far more likely?
 
It would be incredibly, unlikely for two, previously healthy, adult birds to die on the nest. Have you considered that they may have actually been the young birds which IMHO, is far more likely?
Hi Andy,
Sorry, I may not have explained the timeline very well. To clear it up a bit:

2022: A pair of swifts nested in the box and raised two healthy chicks that fledged and left.

2023: A pair of swifts arrived around 13th/14th April and got busy building their nest. By 21st April they were very quiet, and by 23rd April they had both died. By 15th May, a new pair of swifts had arrived and begun building a new nest. They laid eggs, but did not sit on them.

2024: A pair of swifts arrived, built up the nest and laid eggs, but did not sit on them. They are still here, but only come in at night.

Of course, I cannot be sure that any of these pairs are the same ones, but just from behaviours, the ones that died in 2023 did seem to be the pair that had been here in 2022; and the ones this year are doing exactly the same thing as the second pair from last year.

Thanks for your interest. It was very sad that that first pair died in 2023 . If it was the 2022 pair, they were great parents.
 
Hi Andy,
Sorry, I may not have explained the timeline very well. To clear it up a bit:

2022: A pair of swifts nested in the box and raised two healthy chicks that fledged and left.

2023: A pair of swifts arrived around 13th/14th April and got busy building their nest. By 21st April they were very quiet, and by 23rd April they had both died. By 15th May, a new pair of swifts had arrived and begun building a new nest. They laid eggs, but did not sit on them.

2024: A pair of swifts arrived, built up the nest and laid eggs, but did not sit on them. They are still here, but only come in at night.

Of course, I cannot be sure that any of these pairs are the same ones, but just from behaviours, the ones that died in 2023 did seem to be the pair that had been here in 2022; and the ones this year are doing exactly the same thing as the second pair from last year.

Thanks for your interest. It was very sad that that first pair died in 2023 . If it was the 2022 pair, they were great parents.
Very odd, you mention that the nest box is near the kitchen, is it close to a water heater exhaust, could it be carbon monoxide poisoning or anything like that?
 
Very odd, you mention that the nest box is near the kitchen, is it close to a water heater exhaust, could it be carbon monoxide poisoning or anything like that?
No, nothing at all. And the previous year they were fine the whole season, and the new pair was fine the rest of the season and this season. It is very strange. I'm in the south of Spain in a very agricultural region, so I just wonder if it's somehow linked to pesticides. No idea to be honest.
 
Two birds dying together is exceptionally unlikely without an influencing factor, probably man made.
Unfortunately, I think that must be the case. Thank you very much for asking about them, Andy. They were a great pair. Hopefully there will be no further issues and the new pair manage to work things out.
I can't share the videos I have due to size limits, but here are some photos of happier times.
 

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