Businesses urged to act swiftly to save incredible bird in Greater Manchester

Annabel Rushton

Monday 24 June 2019

Swift flying with a mouthful of insects

This Swift Awareness Week (22-30 June) the RSPB is calling on businesses across Greater Manchester to sponsor swift boxes and give these iconic summer birds a helping hand.

Swifts make an epic 6,000 mile journey from Africa in spring, to bring up their chicks in the UK. But for many, the chance to lay their eggs can be thwarted when they arrive: our buildings are changing and their former homes under the eaves are gone, as are the spaces we used to leave for them. These birds are now vanishing from our summer skies, half have gone in just twenty years. So the RSPB is appealing to businesses across Greater Manchester to help provide as many new homes for them as possible, by sponsoring special swift boxes.

The scheme will fund the purchase and erection of swift nestboxes in Greater Manchester and costs £90 for five-year box sponsorship. The sponsored boxes will be placed in various locations around Greater Manchester and fitted with cameras allowing the monitoring of the comings and goings of the swifts - when they arrive, when eggs are laid, when the chicks hatch and when they leave the nest. Those who sponsor these boxes will receive a certificate and updates about the swifts occupying their box as well as a summary of how all the nestboxes in the scheme have fared each year.

Mike Harris from the RSPB said: “Swifts are masters of the skies. They fly all the way here from Africa in the spring to breed. When a young swift leaves the nest, they don’t ever land again until they reach breeding age at around four years old, and even then, they only come to land when they breed. They spend their lives in the air – they feed in the air, they mate in the air, and they even sleep in the air! They are simply incredible.”

Sadly swift numbers are in decline due to a lack of suitable nesting sites. This is because new buildings don’t often have the nooks and crannies that swifts need to get inside buildings to nest, and older buildings have often had them blocked up.

Mike added: “We need businesses, local councils and developers on board as they have the power to make an enormous difference. Think of all the new building that’s going on around Greater Manchester: with a few tiny changes we could be providing millions of homes for swifts so we’re hoping this new sponsorship scheme will encourage lots of businesses to do their bit to help this stunning summer visitor in Greater Manchester.”

Jane King, Sustainability Manager at Morgan Sindall in Salford said: “We are so pleased to be able to get involved in the Greater Manchester Swift box Project.  We are constantly looking at ways we can support ecology on and around our construction sites.  Our A7 New Bailey Project in Manchester has sponsored two local Swift boxes and they are looking forward to updates on their usage.  They are proudly displaying their certificate on site showing their commitment to improving the environment and biodiversity.”

To register your interest or for more information, email swiftbox@rspb.org.uk

Tagged with: Topic: Swift