ABS are proud to be supporting ‘Proyecto Vencejos’ which aims to support the recuperation of stranded swift species and also provide nest boxes to assist in restoring lost nesting sites throughout Cadiz Province. It is an immensely important work as these birds are under threat from nest site destruction and also high mortality rates from lack of adequate insect prey (this particularly impacts on sufficient food supplies for young broods). Please do consider donating directly to this project and assist with the work being undertaken to restore these species to their former glory within the province. Buying promotion items or making a direct payment will not only be of great value to the funding needed to further the project, but will enable this organisation to expand their good work. The project also welcomes additional volunteers to assist in the project. Peter Jones – ABS President.
“Proyecto Vencejos”, a swift project by the Sociedad Gaditana de Historia Natural (SGHN). Lead photograph: Common Swift Apus apus fledgling. Source: ZooBotánico de Jerez.
The Sociedad Gaditana de Historia Natural is a non-profit organization that comprises of more than 260 members from in and also outside the province of Cadiz and is established as a meeting point for researchers and lovers of nature in all its fields. Its main aims are to promote exchange of knowledge and experiences, cooperation and coordination in common projects, the dissemination of this knowledge and the defence of the natural heritage in the context of the province of Cádiz.
This year 2021 against wind and Covid, the SGHN is very happy to present a new bird conservation project. The name, Proyecto Vencejos, being “vencejos” the Spanish word for swifts, is a volunteer program aimed at the active protection of swifts through hand-rearing and rehabilitation of chicks that for several reasons fall from nests during the breeding season. Swifts (G. Apus) are migrating birds that come to breed in spring and go back to spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa. They nest close to humans and like to occupy the cracks and crevices in our buildings. Many chicks fall out of their nests before they are ready to fly and are found, sometimes in high numbers, by people who take them to the several recovery centres. The aim of the Proyecto Vencejo is to provide a net of volunteers who will foster these chicks at home until they are fully grown and can be released in nature.
The hand-rearing process will be focused on two of the most common swifts in the region: Common Swift (Apus apus) and Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus). The Junta de Andalucía, though their recovery centres in the province of Cádiz, will submit the swift chicks arriving in their facilities and will supervise the whole fostering process. These centres are located in El Puerto de Santa María (CREA Dunas San Antón) and Jerez (CRAS del ZooBotánico de Jerez). From there, baby swifts will be distributed to the volunteers who will take care of them until they are fully grown and ready to be released.
The activities to be performed by the volunteers of the Proyecto Vencejos are, among others:
- Transport of swift chicks from the recovery centres and distribution to volunteers.
- Training session for all volunteers.
- Feeding and care of swift chicks. This includes hand feeding with an insect-based diet (mainly crickets of adequate size according to chick size).
- Environmental outreach campaign at education centres about these animals.
- Installation of nest boxes for swifts and organization of a sponsor campaign for them.
STAGES OF THE PROJECT
The first stage of the Proyecto Vencejos has been the dissemination of the activity to social networks and the recruitment of volunteers, both already underway. If you are interested, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be immediately included in the project’s database. The second stage is to launch the online training workshop for volunteers which will be held in April. To give this course, we will have some of the most respected experts on artificial methods of rearing altricial species. At the end, volunteers will have all the basic knowledge they need for an adequate fostering of the swifts. The actual hand-rearing will start as soon as the first chicks arrive in the recovery centres (May-June).
This project has an approved authorization by the Junta de Andalucía, who will issue the relevant permits to work with this protected species. Once the breeding season is over, we will organize a closing session to give all volunteers a participation certificate.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
As we explained earlier, at the moment we are recruiting volunteers for hand-rearing swift chicks. You just have to be over 18 to participate in the project and adopt a swift. But there is also another way to collaborate. We are selling several beautiful and exclusive items, T-shirts, mugs and fabric bags, altruistically designed by our friend painter Nicolás Ruiz de la Corte (Espintapájaros). The funds raised will be fully invested in the Project Vencejos and used to buy food and nest boxes for the swifts. We are also giving talks at several education centres that have been very welcome by the students, and finalizing the set up of a parallel activity called “Apadrina una caja nido de vencejo” (Sponsor a Swift Nest Box). The idea is to encourage people to become sponsors of nest boxes for swifts that we will later put at different places in the province.
For more detailed information, you can write to email@example.com. You can also visit: https://sociedadgaditanahistorianatural.com/nuevo-proyecto-de-la-sghn-vencejos/.
Authors of the article: Mariano Cuadrado (SGHN), and Álvaro Pérez and Chúss Fernández (Team of the Proyecto Vencejos of the SGHN).
Photos and Logos supplied by: SGHN