How will you welcome swifts back this summer?

“All birds are brilliant, but Swifts are something else.”

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They are an iconic part of our summer skies:

Can you tell the difference between swifts, swallows and martins? | sidmouthherald.co.uk

And there is a lot we don’t know about them – but more is being discovered.

For example, some research on swift migration from December:

(10) Ian Parsons on Twitter: “Great bit of research on Pallid Swift. This image is the sat. track data of one bird for two years showing the same areas of sky are used. From research recently published here https://t.co/6YXWxCjimq All #birds are brilliant, but Swifts are something else. https://t.co/Jrdf0DcV2p” / Twitter

With much more here:

Save our Swifts | 38 Degrees

Meanwhile, we need to do our bit to welcome them when they arrive – with help such as the ‘swift brick’:

Campaign to change the law to ensure every new house has ‘Swift Bricks’ – Vision Group for Sidmouth

This is the original petition from 2019:

Save our Swifts | 38 Degrees

And here’s an update on the campaign from this weekend:

Are you ready to welcome our swifts this year? 

As most of you know, I started the petition, Save our Swifts, on 38 Degrees in January 2019. With your excellent support, the petition has over 195,000 signatures! Here’s the link to it: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-swifts. 

The Petition asks that all UK house builders should be required to install swift bricks on all new-build homes, and provide incentives for retrofitting nest boxes onto older properties. Unfortunately, we had no success in persuading the Housing Minister to agree to this.  

In May our swifts will be back, flying all the way up from their winter home in central Africa. Last year ‘my’ swifts arrived on 27 May. They settled into my boxes and had their young. It was fun looking up all summer and seeing the five of them wheeling around catching insects.

Alarmingly, swift numbers are still decreasing, and, together with house martins and greenfinches, the RSPB put them on the red list last December  – red meaning a severe decline in the UK breeding population. They need more places to nest. There’s nothing stopping us – the 195,000 signers of the petition, and other like-minded people – putting up boxes and swift bricks. Together, we should be able to give an increasing numbers of homes to swifts every summer!

You can make the boxes yourself, or have them professionally made and fitted, for example, in my area, by Hampshire Swifts (www.hampshireswifts.co.uk). A good source of information is Edward Mayer, of Swift Conservation (www.swift-conservation.org). 

Will you campaign to get swift bricks and boxes into your local government housing plans? 

Norman Pasley

   
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