RSPB

Swifts are in trouble. Their breeding numbers plummeted by 42 per cent between 1995-2013, making them an amber-listed species on the list of Birds of Conservation Concern. 

Why is this happening? We believe loss of nest sites is at least partly responsible. These migrant birds return from their wintering grounds in Africa to the same spot each year to breed - usually in buildings, in gaps under roof tiles and eaves. 

Due to our tendency to seal up buildings during renovation or knock them down, swifts are returning to discover their nest site has gone or access is blocked.

Tell us about swifts you see

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 look for 

We'd like to find out where swifts are seen and where they're nesting. Watch out for screaming groups of swifts flying at roof-height (that means they're breeding nearby), or where you've seen swifts nesting - perhaps entering a roof or hole in a building.

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.

When to look

The best time to look is around dusk on a warm, still evening, or early morning. And if you can see the nest, it's not a swift’s! 

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

How to take part

Send in the details of what you saw via our online form

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 have sent in records before, it’s important to know if birds are still returning to the same areas. Please tell us what’s happening there this year. This helps us know if the birds are returning, if the colony is stable and if the site still in use.

How you can help

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

Submit your sightings

Create a high home for swifts

Set up a nestbox to give summer-visiting swifts a place to nest and breed year after year. More...

Create a high home for swifts

Swift Cities project

Swifts need our help – and fast. So we have launched a new national project called Swift Cities. Working together with local people, organisations and businesses, our aim is to halt and reverse the decline of swifts.

How we'll do it:

> raising public awareness of the plight of swifts
> working in partnership with planners, developers, local authorities and businesses to protect and provide nest sites for swifts in developments and renovations
> monitoring local swift populations and nest sites through citizen science.

Following the success of the first Swift Cities, in Belfast and Exeter, we aim to launch more Swift Cities all around the UK.

Case studies

These pages illustrate some of the great work already being undertaken around the country to protect swifts against loss of nest sites, and to help this enigmatic bird by providing new ones More...

Case studies

Downloads

National Swift Inventory Annual Report 2014

National Swift Inventory Annual Report 2014

350Kb, PDF

The first annual report outlining the data collated from the public and birding groups around the UK on common swifts

Date: 27 March 2015

Download

Homeowners advice pack

Homeowners advice pack

4.93Mb, PDF

This pack is designed to provide you with a suite of information about identify nesting birds in your home and what you can do to ensure they continue to have a home as well.

Date: 8 April 2015

Download

Local authority advice pack

Local authority advice pack

21.41Mb, PDF

Advice and guidance for local authorities.

Date: 10 April 2015

Download