Swifts need your help in 2018

Swifts are now Amber listed as Birds of Conservation Concern and their decline is principally due to changes humans have made to their nesting sites in man-made buildings. Many changes have taken place since I took over the paperwork 10 years ago.

SOS member Graham Roberts was very active during the 1980s and 1990s in helping to conserve Swifts and carried out surveys which showed many towns and villages in Sussex held strong numbers of Swift colonies. Towns like Petworth, Horsham and Lewes held really high numbers of breeding Swifts, many in Church towers.

During the last 20 years many houses and buildings have been re-roofed and plastic soffits have replaced wooden ones so that Swifts have been unable to return to their former sites.

Now in the age where news can be exchanged quickly through computers and social media many organisations, including the RSPB are highlighting the need to stop this decline and encourage local people to take care of their local breeding Swift population. The RSPB are setting up Swift cities and in 2017 Brighton did their first Swift survey to ascertain which buildings Swifts were using and where.

I am now handing over this job as Swift Champion to Ray Jones whose passion for Swifts will continue to enthuse and guide everyone to put up boxes and investigate planning applications to see if Swift Bricks can be incorporated into houses, industrial buildings, and office blocks (Developers like to feel they are being eco friendly).

If you have Swifts breeding in your local village or town please see if you can set up a local group of fellow Swift enthusiasts. Speak to neighbours and friends and find where the birds have nested in 2017. Putting nest boxes around existing Swift colonies is the first step to helping these birds find nesting places when they return in 2018.

More help and advice can be obtained by contacting Ray and myself at swifts@sos.org.uk

Audrey Wende