Cosy nests for swifts


Forty-four baby swifts, which fell from their nests during the recent heatwave, were housed in Genève Aéroport nesting boxes last Saturday. The orphaned chicks are being looked after by adoptive families before they take flight to Africa.  

Baby swifts seek adoptive parents! Last Saturday, 44 chicks were housed in the 53 nesting boxes attached to Genève Aéroport’s main hangar. In and around Geneva, the high temperatures last week made the birds leap from their nests and fall to the ground. Unable to fly, local residents picked them up and took them to the Centre ornithologique de réadaptation – COR – (ornithological rehabilitation Centre). This weekend, the swifts, a protected species in Switzerland, were moved to their new home at Genève Aéroport.

An aerial work platform, hired for the occasion, lifted the teams from the COR and the airport’s Unité de prévention du péril animalier – PPA – (Wildlife Hazard Management Unit) forty metres off the ground to inspect the nesting boxes. « When a brood counts fewer than four chicks and the parents are not present, a swift can be added to the box », explained Pauline Delessert, assistant head of environmental projects at Genève Aéroport. « When they return, they will feed all the occupants of the nest as they are unable to distinguish their offspring from the new arrivals ».  

The nesting boxes used to be attached to the front of the hangar, on the side facing the runway. About ten years ago, they were moved to the side facing the town to distance the birds from the aeroplanes. « The occupation rate of the nesting boxes is really quite incredible: we have counted about fifty couples. I have to say that the boxes are perfectly located for the birds as they are very high up and have clear access, which is very practical as we know that swifts enter their homes at a speed of 70 km/h! », specified Julie Gyger from the COR. When the chicks have grown and regained their strength, they will naturally start their flight to Africa.