The Silhouette of a swift in flight against a cloudy sky

Bird migration

Bird migration is one of the wonders of the natural world. Around half of the UK's bird species migrate each year, some taking short journeys, and others travelling thousands of miles.

Our wonderful wanderers

Very few birds stay in the same place their whole lives. Most move to find a good food source, either so that they can raise a family or just survive. Some of these migrations are short, but many birds make truly epic journeys, crossing continents and oceans.


In the UK, we see a big surge in bird migration during the spring, when species like swifts and cuckoos arrive, and then again in the autumn, when our geese and swans return. Birds use a wide range of techniques to navigate up and down their flyways. They can use visual landmarks like rivers or the stars; the Earth’s magnetic field; smell; or even just follow other birds. But however they do it, migration is a truly incredible feat.

Journey with our swift on her amazing adventure

Every year swifts set out on an incredible, non-stop journey from Africa to the UK. Experience the journey with our swift, as she leaves behind savannas and forests, crosses deserts and seas, and eventually finds a nest in the eaves of a house in Edinburgh.