Juvenile White-throated Swift Release
At Tucson Wildlife Center, we find joy in every release, but this week it was especially fulfilling to return this juvenile white-throated swift (Patient of the Week 8/18/23) to the wild after recovering from a window strike. No other birds in the world are purely creatures of the air as are swifts. Small birds with short tails and saber-shaped wings, they speed through the sky in search of flying insects.* As swifts do not self-feed in captivity, our dedicated wildlife care team hand-fed insects to our little patient three times a day.
When wild animals are ready for release following care at our Center, it isn’t as simple as just letting them go. When possible, we release our patients back to where they were found. Unfortunately, this very social swift had been rescued from a busy parking lot with no known swift colony in the area. To ensure his best possible chance of survival in the wild, TWC’s Veterinary Technician, Martha, researched areas in Tucson where swift colonies had recently been spotted. Following up on a lead, she went the extra mile and visited a site in the mountains twice on her own before spotting a colony returning to their roosting site in the early evening. Confident this was a resource-rich area with an existing colony, she made three trips to the mountain with the swift in hopes of a successful release.
After two unsuccessful trips, Martha arrived at the site on her third attempt just as the colony was circling overhead. We are happy to report that our young swift quickly left Martha’s hands, soared high to join the other swifts, circled back over Martha, then flew away with the colony. We would like to remind everyone that the swift’s small feet are not designed for perching; they can only cling to vertical surfaces, so they rarely land. If you find a swift on the ground, please call TWC for advice on what to do.
Thank you, Martha!
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