CI Durabilité, a division of Comptoir Immobilier specializing in energy renovation strategy, is actively involved in protecting black swifts in Geneva. During renovation, conversion or elevation operations and with the support of the Centre Ornithologique de Réadaptation, the Régie installs nest boxes on the buildings in its real estate portfolio. Pairs of black swifts will soon take possession of the premises. These developments contribute to the preservation of a species that is becoming increasingly rare in our cities.
Leaving southern Africa at the end of February, colonies of black swifts arrive two months later in our latitudes. These small birds with dark plumage will spend the summer months here, nesting and raising their young. The pairs are faithful to their nesting site and return year after year. When natural nesting boxes are lost (renovations, conversions, demolitions), Swiss law requires that they be replaced by compensatory measures.
Black swifts originally nested in rock crevices and tree cavities. Today, these agile fliers rely on cavities found in the walls, roofs and under the tiles of our buildings. However, these cavities are often removed during construction and no new cracks are created in modern buildings. This is why it is necessary to compensate for this loss with artificial nesting boxes. Note that the black swift is included in the Swiss red list of potentially threatened species.
These birds don’t mess up buildings, don’t damage building materials, and bring in very little material to make their nests. Better yet, they do us a favor since they are great insect predators. In fact, during favorable periods, a pair captures about 20,000 insects per day (flies, beetles, spiders, etc.).
When a renovation project is planned, CI Sustainability contacts the Centre Ornithologique de Réadaptation (COR), which is in charge – together with the Office cantonal de l’agriculture et de la nature (OCAN) – of the cantonal “Black Swift” program. The ornithologists will visit the site to carry out a census of possible natural sites and swift colonies in the area. If appropriate and with the agreement of the owners concerned, nesting boxes are placed before the work, in the immediate vicinity of existing nesting sites. Not realizing that “their” house has changed in appearance, the swifts will gladly move in! They are indeed only attached to the geographical location of their nests.
Because of its sensitivity to environmental issues, CI Sustainability goes beyond the prerogatives of offsetting: the Comptoir Immobilier department specializing in sustainable renovation actively supports the preservation program for the black swift in Geneva. Nesting boxes can be installed on various types of buildings, modern or old, even those with a heritage character. These solutions do not detract from the aesthetics of the building. The ROC’s carpentry workshop produces custom-made nesting boxes, so that they blend in harmoniously with the architecture. Location, shape and color of the structure are carefully thought out.
Black swifts, with their uncommon abilities, fit the mindset of CI Sustainability. By giving them a special place, the Authority is helping to give us a special connection to nature.
Not to be confused with the swallow, the black swift can be recognized by its long, scythe-like arched wings; its color is sooty brown, except for the pale white throat. It is distinguished by its exceptional flight speed: it can reach speeds of 200 km/h! With its 40 cm wingspan, the swift spends almost all of its life in the air. It has the ability to feed, mate and even sleep in flight. It only lands to incubate its eggs. Each breeding pair of swifts raises between two and three young. The parents fly back and forth to feed the chicks, traveling up to 500 km a day.