Enric Fusté           BSc MSc Wild Animal Biology MRSB


This amazing bird is called Falciot Negre in Catalan.

Over the three year period 2008-2010 we conducted an investigation into the hand-rearing of the Common Swift, focusing particularly on the impact of different diets on survival and performance of these birds. The research was carried out at the pioneering Torreferrussa Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Barcelona.

The aim of this website is to set out what we learnt from this research and explain the Husbandry Management Protocol which has now been adopted by the Centre. This Protocol promotes the use of a diet of mealworms because this delivered the best results in terms of survival and final condition for both chicks and adults

Acknowledgements >>


Common Swift orphans represent a significant number of admissions in rehabilitation centres in EuropeWildlife rehabilitation centres may encounter difficulties in the hand-rearing of large numbers of insectivorous chicks using the limited, and expensive, commercially available insects as food. These constraints have resulted in alternative and clearly inappropriate diets being used, such as formulas with different types of meat, cat and dog food, or even cheese! The use of these non-insect based diets also sometimes results from a lack of awareness of the impacts, a factor hard to understand amongst professionals.

The Internet is full of sources recommending inappropriate diets for the hand-rearing of chicks, including advice from well known institutions or apparently trustworthy sources. This incorrect information has also reached the many individuals who privately hand-rear chicks found on the street and who may, therefore, be following incorrect husbandry guidelines.

Based on the empirical data from this research, it can be affirmed that non-insect based diets (in this case, cat food and rat mince) are completely inappropriate in terms of survival and final performance.

I therefore strongly recommend discontinuing the use of non-insect based diets when hand-rearing Common Swifts and other insectivorous birds. The use of the correct diets highlighted the fact that all birds had a high possibility to survive even in extreme conditions, thus rejecting any “sacrifice protocol” based on observed poor clinical condition at admission.


Enric Fusté