Swifts are masters of the air, spending most of their lives in flight.
They even sleep high up in the sky! Swifts are summer visitors, arriving promptly in early May and departing in early August. They only land when they are nesting. Nest are in roof spaces, mostly in old buildings such as Chudleigh Town Hall. About a dozen pairs nest in the town, four or five of them at the back of the Town Hall. Chudleigh Wild has erected Swift nest-boxes here, but so far they prefer their traditional sites in gaps just below the barge boards under the guttering. Numbers in the UK have more than halved in the last 25 years, at least in part due to the loss of nest-sites as roofs have been repaired.
Swifts are all-dark and zoom around at high speed. At times, especially in the evenings, up to 50 can be seen chasing each other over Chudleigh while uttering their high-pitched screaming calls. You might see them visiting their nest-sites, as they quickly disappear into a crevice, perhaps to feed their chicks. Swifts catch flying insects and ‘ballooning’ spiders, storing them by the hundred in their throat pouch before returning to the chicks. As well as travelling long distances to find food, Swifts also migrate to tropical Africa for the winter.