Help us help swifts
The 51% decrease in their breeding numbers in the UK between 1995 and 2015 has made swifts an amber-listed species.
Why are their breeding numbers plummeting?
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.
In this section
The swift is one of the last summer migrants to arrive in the UK and the first to leave.
Are your swifts under threat?
Many established swift colonies are being lost through building demolition, renovation and roof repair.
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.
Create a high home for swifts
Set up a nestbox to give swifts a place to nest and breed year after year.
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 Oxford, we aim to launch more Swift Cities all around the UK.
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.
Oxford has become England’s first Swift City - find out how the city is giving these remarkable summer migrants a home in this podcast
How are we doing?
We've been making changes and we'd love to know what you think.