Good news for the RSPB Swift Survey

Tuesday 6 August 2019

While the swifts are still gracing our summer skies, we’re celebrating a good year for the RSPB Swift Survey.

Every year we ask people to submit their records of nesting swifts and ‘screaming parties’ (groups of swifts flying at roof top, screaming as they go) to the RSPB Swift Survey. These records are building up a picture of where swifts are nesting across the UK and will help us to understand where the birds need help and where new nesting sites would be best placed.


Record participation

2019 has already been our most successful year yet in terms of the number of submissions to the survey. By mid-July we had already received 67% more submissions than the same time last year. The level of interest in the survey is really encouraging and we’re delighted that so many people have participated.


Important upgrades

With such interest in swifts it’s great news that the Swift Survey has recently received several important upgrades, making it easier for people to submit their records and view and download existing records. The survey is a really important tool for helping swifts and we’ll be planning more upgrades in the near future to ensure it is working optimally for everyone submitting and using the data.

One of the exciting new functions is the ability to view and download records for a certain area. We’re hoping that this will prove useful for planners, developers, local swift groups and individuals looking to see whether an area is important for swifts and nest sites should be protected as well as if the birds could be helped by providing new nesting sites. See below for details on how to access this data.


Help swifts - log your sightings

Have you seen a nesting swift? A screaming party? Or noticed that swifts are absent from a site they used to nest in? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’ then we’d love it if you could share your records at

The swifts will start moving south in the next few weeks and it won’t be until next spring until they once again sweep across our skies, so get your records in and enjoy the swifts this summer before it’s time to say goodbye for another year.


How to view and download existing records

From the Swift Survey, go to View records and you’ll see a map of the UK. Use the +/- buttons on the left of the map to zoom to the area you’d like to look at. To select records, hover your mouse button over the arrow on the left of the map. This will open up a tab with five symbols on it. The first two symbols allow you to zoom to a particular area or pan around the map.

If you want to select records, choose from the last three symbols. The dotted rectangle symbol allows you to draw a square or rectangle over a particular area and all the records within this area will be selected. The dotted circle symbol draws a radius around a point you select on the map and will select all the points within that area. The lasso symbol allows you to draw your own shape around a particular area by simply clicking and then dragging the mouse pointer around the area, for instance if you wanted to look at all the records for a particular county or area you could use this tool.

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Photo: The last three symbols on the Swift Survey menu can be used to select records.

Once your records are selected, click on the Download button in the bottom right corner of the map screen. You will then be given the option of choosing how to download the data.

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Photo: Data can be downloaded by clicking on the Download button in the bottom right corner of the map.

To access a table of data, which tells you when the records were made, their grid reference and other useful information, please select ‘Data’. This should open up a new window showing you the records you selected. To access this information in an Excel spreadsheet, click ‘Download all rows as a text file’ in the top left corner of the window.

Find out more about giving swifts a home

Image credits: Ben Andrew (

Tagged with: Topic: Swift