Swifts are an iconic bird, their appearance announces the start of summer as they swoop and soar above parts of Greater Manchester. Sadly like many UK species, swifts are in trouble. Their numbers have halved in the last 20 years due to a loss of places where they nest, putting them at risk of disappearing from this country completely. The RSPB is therefore calling on the public to help reverse this decline by sponsoring special swift nestboxes.
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 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. Providing nesting sites for swifts is crucial to help turn their fortunes around, so we’re hoping this new sponsorship scheme will encourage lots of people to do their bit to help this stunning summer visitor in Manchester. It would certainly make a novel Christmas present for nature-lovers.”
There is also an opportunity for those who wish to put up a swift box on their property. The RSPB will supply two boxes and the swift call attraction system for a recommended donation of £30. Suitable properties need eaves that are at least five metres from the ground, on a north or east facing wall and with a clear line of flight from the boxes. Swifts make great neighbours, as they don’t create mess on properties.
To register your interest or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org