These fast moving, sickle-shaped birds, signal the start of the spring and are a characteristic feature of the spring and summer skies of Gibraltar. Swifts fly all the way down to tropical Africa and back every single year. Once they leave the nest as youngsters, they are known to spend several years continuously on the wing. Two species of swifts have historically nested in built-up areas in Gibraltar; the Common Swift characterised by its dark, almost black colour and the Pallid Swift, which is paler brown. Older buildings in Gibraltar were constructed using traditional methods, leaving gaps under the eaves and gables, these have long been used by swifts for nesting. However, modern building styles and techniques have had an adverse effect on the local swift population by decreasing the habitat that these birds use for nesting. Government is placing nests around Gibraltar and it is the policy of the Development and Planning Commission to require the installation of swift nests in all new construction. There is a third species, the larger and much rarer Alpine Swift, which nests in crags on the east side of the Rock.
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