Hoping for a swift return

Sunday 1st May 2016

Swifts at All Saints church in Worlington

Swifts tend to arrive back in the UK en masse. They arrive later than other migrants such as swallows, waiting until the weather conditions are just right. Then they seem to appear before our very eyes, filling our skies with their familiar summertime soundtrack of screaming calls.

The continuing decline in the number of swifts visiting our shores is worrying. Between 1995 and 2012 we lost half of the swifts breeding in this area of the country. It is thought this is largely due to the loss of nesting sites through modern building practices and the blocking up of existing nest sites.

In Suffolk swifts like to nest under pantiles and will return to the same nest site each year – provided it’s still there. They are extremely good house guests, they’re quiet and clean and leave very little, if any, debris behind.

The SOS Swifts (Save our Suffolk Swifts) campaign was launched in 2014 as a partnership between Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group to support a national effort to raise awareness of the threats faced by the species. It wants to gain a greater understanding of their behaviour when they come to Suffolk. We are doing this by asking people to tell us about nest sites and screaming parties (where they are seen skimming the rooftops most summer evenings). We’re also asking people to Tweet using #SOSSwifts to tell us when they see their first swift of the summer.

The campaign group have arranged a number of ‘swift events’ throughout the year where people can come and hear from experts and see the birds. These are taking place in village halls and churches. Please visit our What's On pages for details of these events.

Here's a short clip of swift calls being played at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Mickle Mere nature reserve. Playing swift calls encourages the birds to take up residence in new nest boxes:


Set up the Swift box audio at Micklemere today, with the help from Lackford Lakes - Suffolk Wildlife Trust volunteer Jo

Posted by Suffolk Wildlife Trust on Friday, 1 May 2015

Swifts are a truly unique species. Most of their life is spent on the wing. Once fledged they will remain airborne for at least three years, before they land to breed. They sleep, eat and it is believed that they even mate on the wing!


Tagged with: Species, Swifts