Spain’s heatwave is threatening the lives of swift fledglings

Spain's heatwave is threatening the lives of swift fledglings Image Credit: cc/Pawel Kuzniar

The heatwave in Spain is threatening the lives of swift fledglings who are leaving the nest early due to the high temperatures, causing many to die due to a lack of assistance.

SEO Birdlife, the NGO promoting the interests of wild birds in Spain, has warned that many fledglings and nestlings are in danger of dying as a result of the heat. High temperatures in nests cause the fledglings to leave early and as they are unable to fly they fall to the ground, where their parents are unable to help or feed them.

You can help

Swifts fledglings that have fallen to the ground are doomed to die, so it is urgent to try to help them.

The first option is always to transfer them to a Recovery Centre to be cared for by professionals, as they are notoriously difficult birds to raise given their specialised diet and the level of care required.

A quick search or appeal on the internet will always give you an indication of what specialists are in your area, but if there aren’t any then call 112 and ask for environmental services. Many of the communities in Spain will rescue and raise birds, failing which SEPRONA or your local police may know of who to contact.

WARNING: If you find a bird that needs help, the best option is always to take it to a recovery centre. The keeping of wild birds is not permitted under current legislation and you may face a fine if you take it home. If you suspect that it is an endangered bird, under no circumstances should you take it, and you should immediately notify the forestry or environmental agents (via 112) so that they can take charge of it.

To save the bird (this applies to all fledglings and injured birds, pick it up carefully but firmly, do not give it “room” to struggle in your hand, as this damages the feathers. Put the bird in a tight-fitting box with some tissue or shredded paper, so that it is comfortable but cannot move around. Add some holes to the box lid.

Then take it to the recovery centre as quickly as possible – you can find more information on the SEO/Birdlife website.

What you should never do

Resist the temptation to cool the bird down with water or try and put its face in the water, any liquid that goes through its nostrils could kill the bird within hours.

Do not feed the bird the first thing that comes to mind, many boards like swifts can survive for hours without food. The wrong food will do the bird harm. If you are not sure search the internet for advice or contact an expert for guidance, most will help even if they are not local to you.

With Spain’s heatwave threatening the lives of swift fledglings the worst thing you can do is nothing. So be a wildlife hero and get the bird to an expert!


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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