How to use Swift Mapper

Thank you for taking part. With your help, we’ll build a picture of where swift nest sites need to be protected and where future nest sites need to be.

How to start using Swift Mapper

  1. Set up an account for Swift Mapper – either on its website or mobile app. You’ll need an account to enter, edit (coming soon) and delete your own Swift Mapper records. Your details won’t be used for anything other than managing your account. (But if you only want to view or access the swift data collected on Swift Mapper, you do not need an account)
  2. To register you’ll need either an email address or your Facebook or Google account if you have one. Please note: You can NOT use your existing RSPB online account to log into Swift Mapper.

If you use your email address to register and you don’t get your verification email, please check for delayed/held emails in your spam folder.


How to use Swift Mapper

You’ll find videos on the ‘How to use Swift Mapper’ page on the Swift Mapper website, showing you how to use Swift Mapper, data entry, data selection and download. Or you can follow the below instructions.

To enter a record

  1. Find the right area on the map by either moving (and zooming into) the map, or:
  2. Go to the search bar at the top of the map on its home page, and enter either an address or a postcode
  3. Once the rough area shows on the map, you can move (or zoom into) the map again to find the right spot
  4. Then click ‘Add record’ and select the appropriate record type
  5. Click the cursor/tap the map in the correct position for the record
  6. Enter the record details, ‘Review’ these, edit if necessary and then ‘Submit’ when ready.

Handy hint: You can switch the display between a standard map and satellite imagery by using the ‘map layers’ button, second from the bottom on the left hand toolbar.


What records of flying swifts we want

Swift Mapper is all about recording where swifts are nesting. So in addition to observations of nest sites themselves, we would also like you to submit records of swifts flying at around roof height, often flying fast and low, and giving loud screaming calls. We call these ‘screaming parties’, and their presence indicates that swifts are breeding nearby.

  • Having selected ‘Screaming Party’ as the record type, click or tap at the appropriate place on the map, and record the number of swifts flying at around roof height
  • Once you have told us about that group of low flying swifts at that specific location in a single year, you don’t need to report them again that year
  • If you see a higher number of swifts at the same location another time, please do enter this as a new record with the higher number. This way we should capture the maximum number of nesting swifts
  • As for records of nest sites, please do submit separate records for screaming parties each year.

Please note: Do not record any other sightings of swifts flying high, swifts seen flying over countryside or water bodies. Report these other sightings using Birdtrack instead.


How to edit or delete your records

To delete any of your records on the Swift Mapper you need to log in using the same user account that you used to enter these records:

  • Go to ‘My Account’ (in the menu button at the very top left of the homepage map)
  • You should see all your records in a list
  • Find the relevant record, click on it and a record details box should appear
  • Click on the delete button to remove the records.

Please note: We’re currently developing the function to edit your own records in a similar way. This should be available within Swift Mapper in summer 2020. If you entered records previously to the RSPB Swift Survey system, you cannot edit or delete them in this way, as they were not associated with a user account.


See what other people have recorded

To look at the full details of records submitted by others:

  • Click on a record on the map. It will show basic data for that record
  • Click on ‘More information’ to show more details
  • Full details are visible by downloading the record – click the ‘Download (.csv)’ button
  • You can select multiple records to download using the ‘filters function’ – top button on the left hand toolbar
  • Filter the data by record types, dates, local authority areas or user-drawn boundaries.


For conservation groups using Swift Mapper

If you’re a member of a local conservation group, individual members can see other members’ records by:

  • Using a shared user account to enter the records
  • Using the keywords function within each data record to enter terms agreed by, and specific to, your particular group. You can then search these keywords within a downloaded data file from Swift Mapper.


How to use the data within Swift Mapper

Swift Mapper will build up a picture – over time – of where swifts are nesting and concentrated. It helps to focus local conservation action for swifts in the right places. The system is a ‘self-help’ tool, freely available to anyone who wants to help protect existing swift nest sites or considering where new nesting opportunities for swifts should be. 

Swift Mapper relies on records being submitted in good faith by large numbers of volunteers (and we thank them all). The data should be treated as a guide to where breeding swifts have been recorded (as present or absent), but RSPB cannot guarantee the accuracy of any individual record. We strongly recommend that thorough ground surveys are conducted in addition, before any records are used in a legal or planning case context. Also please note that a lack of Swift Mapper records in any one area does not confirm there are no swifts breeding there.


Your previous records of nesting swifts

All records submitted to the RSPB Swift Survey between 2016 and 2019 (nearly 40,000 records in total!) or to the previous Swift Mapper mobile app in 2019, can be viewed and downloaded from Swift Mapper. Records from previous RSPB swift recording systems up to 2014 have been submitted to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway, where anyone can view and download them. We’re intending to pass all other existing data from Swift Mapper to the NBN Gateway in the future, and then all new data provided annually.