The Swift is a remarkable summer visitor to the UK, arriving in April from Africa & leaving in September. They nest in colonies, under eaves of buildings & homes. They feed on flying insects high in our summer skies. Amazingly they only land to nest, spending the rest of their lives in the air, even sleeping & mating on the wing. They're increasingly threatened by loss of nesting sites to loft & roof renovations.
The good news is that we can reverse these declines by providing them with specifically designed artificial nest boxes, especially where they have lost traditional eaves to nest in. We would especially like to focus on erecting nest boxes on schools and public buildings to educate children and local communities about our impact on biodiversity and how nature conservation can help our threatened wildlife.
These astonishing birds travel the globe facing many dangers en route, returning to Ealing each summer where they were born. This project will ensure they can remain here.
What we'll deliver:
- Buy & erect 150 new nest boxes to boost existing and attract new colonies of Swifts
- Site boxes on public buildings across the borough where they will engage the public with nature conservation
- Design and install permanent education/information signage to showcase the value of Swifts and urban wildlife
Why it's a great idea:
The benefits of this are that we would be providing obvious and visible focal points for conservation & educating how to mitigate human damage to birds' breeding habitat. We would have signage to explain the requirement to have varied landscapes within the local environment to support a variety of wildlife. This would have significant benefits in terms of local engagement in habitat preservation and an understanding of the importance of other species in the food chain such as insects. Swifts are colony birds so their presence is easy to recognise and we have seen that other bird projects within the borough have generated huge local excitement.
We will encourage local inclusion and awareness of the project, as we will also be asking EWG members to erect their own Swift boxes, bought or home made. The project reach has massive potential by sparking interest & involvement. With rear access to some nest boxes we'll ring birds & gather information to share globally & monitor Ealing's birds.
Steps to get it done:
- Purchase of Swift boxes
- Recruitment of project partners in schools and public buildings
- Enlisting local contractor to install nest boxes
- Installing nest boxes
- Installing calling systems to attract Swifts prospecting for new nest sites
- Training and enlisting swift volunteers to survey local breeding sites
- Reporting of annual swift breeding and occupancy to local community and media
Swifts are a charming, fascinating species which act as an emblem & mascot for global nature conservation. They are declining for reasons like habitat loss, climate change, extreme weather, insect declines & loss of traditional nest sites in urban landscapes. They tell a global story of nature's decline & we know from other Swift nest box projects that local communities really engage with & get behind saving 'their' local Swifts. Each breeding pair spends its winter in Africa alone but return to breed again under the very same eave with their lifelong partner. Their youngsters return to breed on the same street above our homes & gardens for just a few short months each summer. The sounds of Swifts above our heads are the epitome of summer & their departure each year can be tinged with sadness. But even sadder is when they return to find their nest site has been blocked or disappeared. By putting in nest boxes we can protect and conserve this iconic species for future generations.