If you find a grounded Swift

Note: Swifts are insectivorous birds, so they need to be fed only on insects. Diets based on cheese, cat food, any meat or other non-insect food, are ultimately fatal (Fuste 2013).


Two nestling Swifts not yet ready for release
Photo © Judith Wakelam
Most grounded Swifts are likely to be fledglings that have fallen out of the nest before they are ready to fly, so they will need fostering. Occasionally an adult will meet with an accident and plummet to the ground, in which case it may need rehabilitating.

If you find a grounded Swift, the priority is to make it safe by carefully picking it up and putting it in a box, then closing the lid to enable it to calm down, then keep it warm.

Swifts are difficult to care for, as they need a special diet. Swifts are not for beginners, so your next step should be to get in touch with someone who is a specialist in this field (see links below).

A common problem for recently rescued swifts is dehydration. Outcomes can be improved if the swift is rehydrated by stroking a wetted cotton bud around its bill, avoiding the nostrils. A small pinch of sugar or glucose in the water can also help.



A fostered juvenile Swift is released successfully
Photo © Judith Wakelam
If you pick up an adult and consider that it is ready to fly, the technique for releasing it safely is not to throw it into the air, but to hold it in the palms of your hands, raise your hands high and the bird should go. Make sure you are releasing it INTO the wind, and choose a place where, if it should come to ground again, you can easily find it.






There is a list of people who can rehabilitate Swifts in the UK here:
Comprehensive advice is here:

The RSPCA or your nearest wildlife hospital may be another source of help, but make sure they know that Swifts are insectivores.