UK Swift Awareness Week gets underway


UK Swift Awareness Week is underway and 70 events are taking place across the country to celebrate Common Swift.

It precedes the parliamentary debate on 10 July about the installation of nest sites for Red-listed urban birds, including Common Swift, in all new buildings.

These awareness events have been organised by many of the 119 local swift groups. Several are enjoying considerable success in attracting swifts into new nestboxes, projects which will help to reverse the inexorable decline of this species, whose numbers are down by more than 60% despite widely being considered one of the sounds of the summer.

Seventy events to are taking place across the UK this week to support Common Swift (Mike Trew).

Dick Newell, who set up the Action for Swifts blog, has been installing and experimenting with nestbox design for different types of building for more than 20 years. He said: "Where boxes have been installed, villages near me in Cambridgeshire that once had a handful of birds now have tens of pairs.

"Nestboxes in church belfries have proved particularly successful, with some 60 pairs now nesting in one belfry. This needs to be replicated across the country and already, many of the UK's swift groups are getting involved."

Edward Mayer, founder of Swift Conservation, added: "To complement these voluntary initiatives, if swifts are to maintain their numbers, the building industry needs to install the cost-effective and well-proven internal nestboxes called 'Swift Bricks' in all new developments as well as in refurbished older buildings.

"MPs will debate this very issue immediately after Swift Awareness Week, a petition on the subject having more than 110,000 signatures."

UK Swift Awareness Week 2023 runs until Sunday 9 July. A full list of the 70 events can be found here.

Hannah Bourne-Taylor, who organised the swift-brick petition, said: "Swift Awareness Week is ideal since it runs just before the important parliamentary debate on Monday 10 July about installing universal bricks to help urban birds like Common Swift and House Sparrow."