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Help us help swifts

Flying swift

Image: Graham Catley

We need your help to find out more about our swifts.

They're some of the last spring migrants to arrive, but the first to leave. You've probably seen them speeding through the air, screaming their heads off, or swooping into crevices in buildings. 

But they're in trouble. Swifts are now on the Amber List - they're birds of Conservation Concern. Their numbers have declined dramatically in the past 10 years; we're not sure why, but one of the possible reasons is that their nest sites are being destroyed.

We're working with swift groups around the UK. Your information will help our knowledge of swifts so that more nest sites can be provided and protected. Tell us where you see swifts and help us to help them.

What to do

We'd like to find out where swifts are seen and where they're nesting. Look out for low-level, roof-height screaming groups of swifts (that means they're breeding nearby) or where you've seen swifts nesting - perhaps entering a roof or hole in a building (if you can see the nest, it's not a swift). The best time to look is around dusk on a warm, still evening, or early morning.

For screaming parties, June and July are the best months around dusk or early morning, as these are likely to be young birds pairing up for the first time looking for potential nest sites.

You don't need to report sightings of swifts that are either very high in the sky, feeding over water bodies or away from villages, towns and cities. These birds could have travelled some distance and may not be local breeding birds.

Submitting your results

Please submit your results online.

You can enter as many records as you like at different times. We need sightings from anywhere across the UK. You can even tell us those sightings you remember from the past. The more records the better. If you already have an account for our online community you can sign in and enter your swift sightings using those details when the survey is open. If not, don't worry, you can still submit your sightings.

I've done this before

The National Swift Inventory will only work if information is kept up to date. You may have submitted records in previous years, but it is important to know if birds are still returning to the same areas and using the nests you recorded them at before. Please submit the latest information relating to the site, giving either numbers of screaming birds and/or nests. This helps us know if the birds are returning, if the colony is stable and if the site still in use.

Advice packs

Various advice packs on how you can help swifts are available to download. Whether you are a homeowner, local authority/developer/housing association, or community/local group, there is one for you. Please let us know if you've found these packs useful or have any other feedback.

How you can help

We'd like to know where you've seen screaming swifts or swift nest sites.

Submit your sightings

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