Category Archives: Chat about the decline in bird numbers

SPARROWHAWKS – 1st January 2009

Below  is a blast from the past!  I wrote the blog post on 1st January 2009.  I decided to re-post it now because I am still getting people with sparrowhawk problems

 

If you don’t want to click on the link the actual 2009 article  is shown below the link

 

http://birdtablenews.com/2009/01/sparrowhawk-numbers/ 

 from 2009

I think  the RSPB believe that all hawks should be protected.

I don’t believe that.  Sparrowhawks seem to be coming more common and numerous. 

Sparrowhawks have no natural enemies so if they take up residence in an area and raise young each year they will need food.

A gentleman in this area has seen sparrowhawks take song thrushes time after time.  I think the Song Thrush numbers are  under threat.  The sparrowhawk is not

If the sparrowhawk is protected and has no naturel enemies then they will become common – and then maybe will not need protection.

I belong to the RSPB, but I have also joined Songbird Survival.  Songbird Survival is a charity trying to stop the decline in bird numbers.

It believes that one of the reasons for the decline in bird numbers is uncontrolled predation.

So we have two opposing views. Interesting. 

I’ll put more information on about Songbird Survival soon.  Or you can just google Songbird Survival.

We can’t have summer without swifts

Hi.   it’s may 2012 now and we have not had a return of our swifts this year.

We had about 8 nesting last year and around 30 flying every day.

This year we have been eagerly waiting because surely summer can’t start without them but they havn’t arrived yet  – and only about 4 pairs flying about.

What a sad loss

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Hi Enid,  I agree it is a sad loss.

It’s something that is out of our control.  We can only watch and hope they return.

We are the same here in Yorkshire, but more so with swallows for us.  Over the years the numbers have dropped.

Is it the change in weather?  Is it people catching the  birds?  Is it a lack of insects for them to eat?  Is it that there are more predator birds about?

I only know that we miss them arriving and the sky is so bare without them flitting about so expertly

Trisha

Enid got in touch through this article.  I wrote it in 2011 and it seems things are still the same.

http://birdtablenews.com/2011/05/swifts-not-returning-from-their-migratory-journey/

ARE HOT SUMMERS CAUSING A DECREASE IN SWALLOW NUMBERS?

I live in N. Dorset and I too have noticed fewer Swallows this year. 

We have had them nest every year in our car-port but the very hot summers have caused problems and this year I don’t think any survived from 2 hatchings.

They built their nest high in the roof where it got extremely hot and the chicks fell from the nest, several not surviving; some persevered after we put them back lower down in the roof where there was more ventilation but ultimately I think it’s the extreme heat that is causing the problems. 

Maybe they are going further north to nest.  We had House-Martins last year (2010) the chicks that I saved after their nest fell off the wall the year before (2009); that was very satisfying but they did not return this year.  I feel sure the extreme heat is to blame and they are searching out cooler regions.

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Thank you for sending these details.  I think of climate change as being more a worldwide problem, I never think that local weather changes could have an impact on birds.  But of course it can.

Trisha

Decrease of Swallows in Washington State

 

Hello Trish, We live in Washington State, USA. I was looking online for anyone who may understand the decrease in Swallows over the last few years.

Every years we have less and less return, at this rate, next year we may not have any return, this concerns me.

Looking online I found your web site, I know I’m not in the UK, but we have the same problems.

Hope I can share with you, what happens on our side of the world. Over here, our Swallows fly south to South America. They will start to leave our area around the 15th of August. Thank-you for your web site. 🙂 Donna 

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 Thank you Donna for sharing this.  Through Bird Table News I realise it is a wider problem than I first thought.

We have the same problem here on the farm in Yorkshire, England.

The swallows seem to decrease each year. So fewer swallows set off on the migratory journey  – which means fewer will return next year.

I think I will get in touch with Garth who emailed me last year.  He does a lot orf bird ringing.

I thought this was interesting.  It is from an article I did a while ago

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About the 12th Century in Germany a Prior in a Monastery fixed a parchment to a swallow’s leg asking –

 ‘Swallow where do you live in winter’

The following spring the Prior received the reply attached to the swallow’s leg

‘In Asia, the home of Petrus’.

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Amazing.  What a simple idea.  How did the Prior catch the swallow?  Did he expect a reply? 

From that piece of parchment it was discovered that swallows flew from Germany to Asia. 

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About 1740 a man called Johann Leonard Frisch tied some wool to swallows’ legs. 

He wanted to find out if the same swallow returned to the same nest year after year. 

The following Spring he found out that they do!

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How on earth they caught the swallows I will never know

Thank you for contacting me.  It is very unbelievable that one day we may not have any swallows returning in the Spring.

I will read up about this and see if there are ways to find out more.

Any ideas welcome.  Surely with the World Wide Web we should be able to.

 

The comings and goings of the swifts and swallows near our house has always fascinated me and it seems it has fascinated other bird watchers over the years.

About the 12th Century in Germany a Prior in a Monastery fixed a parchment to a swallow’s leg asking –

 

‘Swallow where do you live in winter’

The following spring the Prior received the reply attached to the swallow’s leg

‘In Asia, the home of Petrus’.

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Amazing.  What a simple idea.  How did the Prior catch the swallow?  Did he expect a reply? 

From that piece of parchment it was discovered that swallows flew from Germany to Asia. 

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About 1740 a man called Johann Leonard Frisch tied some wool to swallows’ legs. 

He wanted to find out if the same swallow returned to the same nest year after year. 

The following Spring he found out that they do!

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I anticipate the return of the swifts and swallows every Spring and know they return to us from warmer climates.

SOME HARD WORK IS DONE TO DISCOVER MORE ABOUT SWALLOWS

http://birdtablenews.com/2010/09/swallow-recording-and-ringing-in-worcestershire/

Swallows migrating

 

THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2010 – DUE TO AN ERROR IT IS 9 MONTHS LATE.  BUT BETTER LATE THAN NOT AT ALL

Garth has been in touch about swallows migrating.  Really pleased he has seen a good swallow season in West Worcestershire

The young swallows will move south as directed by the genetic chip in their brain, but only a small number of the total get to S. Africa and back. It only needs two to survive to replace their parents should they fail to get back.

It does take them two months to do the whole journey as they feed en-route and might stay in one place for a few days if the weather is not suitable to continue south, so late hatched birds can build up their strength on the way.

Evidence shows that when young swallows return next spring they do not go back to nest where they were hatched but could be in the locality. This then avoids genetic problems. I have had a good season in West Worcestershire with no very late broods to worry about.

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Garth was partly replying to

ALL BUT THREE OF MY SWALLOWS HAVE GONE

Swallows in South Wales

I hope this reaches Garth,
thank you for your report on the  Worcester swallows.it’s fascinating.

After an early arrival, then a slow start to lay, we in S.W.Wales have had a good year.not as good as last year with some brooding 3 times. but better than predicted .

Obviously ,I have no ringing data but our average was 4 chicks. The latest batch was  rather late fledging late Aug.

Is there anywhere I can get more info about your work ?
“best wishes swallow lady”

Swallows in Ontario

Hi Trish
My last baby swallow left yesterday June 22nd./11 They arrived last week in April/11. I was so happy to see them again.

My last sight was 2008 on Northern Ontario where I used to live. Their little house was tacked onto our house so close I would talk to them and watch their goings on.

We now live in Eastern Ont. ( Ottawa ) since 2009. None last year but in a brand new little house and again tacked close to the patio doors thay arrived in late April and just left yesterday.

What a pleasure it was. There were five babies in all and to watch the parents feed and care for them was delightful. Our neighbors came over to see, it was quite a show.

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Ontario!  I think of swallows as only nesting in England which I know is wrong.

How wonderful that people all over the world are interested in swallows.

You’re lucky that you can get so close.  The swallows we’ve had nesting have so many old buildings to choose from we never really know where their nests are.

You must go to the trouble of putting up a swallow nest box. And you’ve reaped the reward by getting so close to them.

Trisha

I wonder what migratory path they will take.

This was a comment on an article   http://birdtablenews.com/2009/05/migration-of-swallows/

SWIFTS NOT RETURNING FROM THEIR MIGRATORY JOURNEY

I am really worried!

This year as with every year, summer really doesn’t start until the swifts arrive.

Usually they appear mid to early May, dipping and diving at incredible speed above our little Warwickshire town. Our town is predominately medieval/Elizabethan timber framed houses, many of them still sporting their open eaves and perfect swift nesting roof voids. There are also a good number of outbuildings at the rear of properties which have been used year after year by a long generation of swift families.

This year though, there has been no shrill swift calls and no large aerial displays like other years. In fact we have only noticed 3 or 4 pairs as opposed to the usual 30 or 40 pairs.

The swift nursery we purpose built 7 years ago in our roof void is empty and as May turns to June we are losing hope that they are so mehow delayed and will soon arrive.

We are located in South Warwickshire,  The loss of this magnificent and heart lifting bird, that has graced our skys and is part of our towns historical past, probably from before the time of Shakespeare, is devastating.

Has anybody else experienced a significant drop in the swift/swallow population? Is it possible that they are late arriving this year due to world weather and climate changes (ie volcano eruption, earthquake, tsunami, etc.)?

Could it be the re-introduction of certain birds of prey to the UK? (I have noticed a huge increase in the population of Red Kites on the outskirts of Oxford and they can be seen hovering in large numbers as you drive through on the M40 Oxford to London. They are magnificent birds, but could they be contributing to the loss of our summer migrationary birds?)

Although I know the loss of nesting sites has made it difficult for them in this country, because of the ideal nesting sites we have in our Town, I would not have expected such a dramatic drop as this. I’d love to hear that Swifts are still in abundance elsewhere in the country as without our resident summer aerial performers, the usual festive spirit that accompanies the many street and folk festivals we have in our town, lacks their usual lustre. Kind regards, C. Gray –

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I received the above from Gary and have put together some information.

The Swift Conservancy Group would be interested to hear from you and would be able to advise you.     http://www.swift-conservation.org/

The RSPB have an online  ‘Swift Survey’  
htttp://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/surveys/swifts/

It is worrying and sad this is happening and is outside our control.  It has been said that swifts could be extinct in 20 years.  I hope not. 
http://birdtablenews.com/2009/03/swifts-could-be-extinct-in-20-years/

It is not just that swifts look beautiful but swifts save us from disease – http://birdtablenews.com/2009/04/swifts-save-us-from-disease/

There was talk of a Swift Tower at the 2012 Olympics 
http://birdtablenews.com/2009/04/swift-tower-at-the-olympics/

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I hope this helps you.  Our swift and swallow numbers have been dropping every year.

It seems to be out of our hands. Lets hope they appear, as if by magic, out of the skies soon.

I will see if I can find anything from other parts of the country. Let me know what you find – if anything.

Trisha