Each May swifts which have spent the winter in Africa return to this country. They are here for only three months, leaving again at the end of July, but in that brief period they make their presence felt. Their beautiful streamlined shapes and the amazing speed of their flight, often in parties screaming to one another as they go, make them a unique and remarkable feature of summer.
Over the past few decades swift numbers have declined significantly and it is likely that a major cause is a lack of nest sites. Swifts have been nesting in our buildings for hundreds of years, but modern construction and better insulation leave no way in. Each time an old roof is replaced, access for birds is prevented, and the only way to compensate for this is to incorporate nest boxes.
Fortunately, swifts need very little space and there is no shortage of purpose-built nest boxes on the market. But they are creatures of habit and if they return in spring to find that they cannot access their nest sites they will leave, fail to breed, and be difficult to entice back. If holes are replaced by purpose-built boxes during renovation, the swifts are quite likely to use them successfully.
We want to keep swifts in Rushcliffe and we would like to create a network of people who would help. In Kinoulton we have been lucky enough to attract swifts to new boxes and we would be delighted to show anyone what we have done. We would also like to know about swifts nesting anywhere in the Borough. Please let us know if you have swifts locally, or if you might like to be involved. To learn more about these amazing birds go to: http://www.swift-conservation.org/ .
By Carol Collins