Help our swifts – join our survey

Help our swifts – join our survey

Photo: Josh Hellon

We would like you to let us know where swifts are nesting in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Record your sightings

Breeding numbers of swifts are declining dramatically in the UK. This is considered to be partly due to the loss of nesting sites, as older buildings are demolished and modern buildings are often not suitable for building nests.

We need information on swift nesting sites from your local area to help us to protect these areas and to plan the installation of new boxes. Swifts begin to return to the UK from late April onward, and will be looking for suitable nest sites.

This survey launched in 2019, and has already provided a huge amount of information, thanks to your records. A summary of the results can be found here

What can I record?

The aim of the survey is to record nesting sites, so we are asking you to send us sightings of:

  • Screaming parties – birds congregate on the wing calling to each other with the distinctive screech, usually near suitable buildings
  • Nests in buildings - swifts return to the same sites throughout their life (up to 20 years). Please report swifts entering buildings through the roof or a hole
  • Nest boxes – you can report the presence of swift boxes and let us know if they are being used

There is no need to report sightings of swifts away from nesting areas. Swifts fly very long distances and may just be passing through.

Swift identification guide

How else can I help?

We are encouraging everyone with a suitable building to install nest boxes. Where possible we are incorporating them into our own buildings, including the recent installation of three boxes at our Cambourne office. These boxes are built to the ‘Model 30’ design from the excellent Action for Swifts website. This box can be built at home and is designed to be installed at almost any location due to its sloping roof (see main picture).

To encourage swifts to the boxes we are installing an electronic call system – again based on a design from Action for Swifts. Attraction calls are proven to assist swifts to find new nesting sites – we have already had success using this method at Trumpington Meadows.

Swifts - main page

This survey has been produced in partnership with the Northamptonshire Biodiversity Records Centre (NBRC) and WILDside project. Many thanks to the The Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service for assistance with the design of this survey

WILDside NBRC HLF logos