Your article on Saving the Swift last week was fascinating. Some years ago I found a young swift in my garden. It had evidently fallen out of a nest or from the sky but I couldn’t see any nest. It was not fully fledged as its beak was yellow and not yet properly developed. I picked it up and put it in a cardboard box with some newspaper and other soft material and carried it gently into the house. I rang the RSPCA but they didn’t know what to do. They referred me to the RSPB. The RSPB told me to take it to a local vet and ask for the creature to be painlessly put down. They explained that there was no hope for it. But I could not accept that.
I was a teacher and I borrowed a pipette from the school’s biology lab. (A pipette is a glass tube with a rubber bulb at one end.) With help from my wife and daughter I mixed some minced meat with milk and forced a little into the bird’s beak, using the pipette. We repeated this every few hours and soon whenever we entered the room it would open its mouth and expect more. This continued for a week or so and the bird’s beak began to look more normal. We called him Simon. Simon Swift.
Simon grew in strength until we thought he needed some flying lessons. I took him into the garden and launched him into the air. There was a great flapping of wings but he fell quickly to the ground. I repeated this every day and each time Simon flew a little further before spectacularly crash landing on the lawn. Then one day he actually flew in a circle and, having gained height crashed into the thatch of our cottage.
I went to get a ladder so as to rescue him but just as I rested it onto the roof, a flight of swifts came noisily past, shrieking and screaming as they went. Simon took off and joined them! It was at once impossible to recognise which one he was. They flew away over our neighbours’ roof tops.
I just hope he was strong enough to keep going.
So you see, with perseverance it actually is possible to raise a fledgling swift and return him to his friends.