Posted: 26/03/2015 at 12:44
In about a month Swifts will return to Britain and those of us lucky enough to have a local population will be thrilled by their high-speed flight and screaming calls - a key sound of summer - and the more you get to know about them the more fascinating they are. The only time these birds land is during the breeding season and we have a responsibility to look after them.
However, Swift numbers have been dropping for some years and part of the problem seems to be destruction of traditional nest sites by restoration of buildings. It is now common for building techniques not to preserve any of the nooks and crannies that Swifts prefer. This is particularly significant in older factory buildings and Edwardian and Victorian houses. You can find a lot more about the problem and ways in which we can all help to do something about it at http://www.swift-conservation.org/.
Your local Wildlife Trust and ornithological society are almost certainly involved with this issue and will have information on how you can help. Particularly important now is recording of nest sites (which can be surprisingly hard to find) so that they can be protected. If you have local knowledge it will be very useful - you may know of a nest on your street or your house (lucky you) which would take someone else ages to find.
It is just as easy for builders to preserve or replace nest sites as it is to destroy them and techniques have been tried and tested across Europe. Swift Conservation have worked with major developers to provide Swift nest sites, so this isn't a conflict, rather it can be a win-win. If you get the chance to attend a Swift Conservation meeting or event you'll be inspired.