RSPB launches new swift mapper app and calls on public to help save one of the fastest birds in our skies - RSPB

Swift brick (Ben Andrew/RSPB)

The RSPB is calling on the public to help record where swifts are nesting to help us understand where the best places are to help these amazing birds.

Every year swifts make incredible journeys from Africa to the UK to nest in gaps in roof tiles and the eaves of our homes and other buildings.

These small but intrepid birds desperately need our help. Their numbers are falling sharply and in just 20 years more than half of our swifts have vanished. The RSPB believes loss of nest sites is at least partly responsible. They return from Africa to the same spot each year to breed in gaps under roof tiles and eaves but the way we build homes has changed and swifts are returning to discover their nest site has gone or access is blocked.

But there is something very easy the public can do to help. Together with our partners Action for Swifts, Natural Apptitude, Swift Conservation and the Swifts Local Network we’ve developed Swift Mapper; a web-based mapping system with mobile app.

By reporting where you see nesting swifts on Swift Mapper you’ll help to build a picture of where swift nest sites need to be protected and where it would be best to provide new nest sites.

Watch out for groups of swifts flying fast at roof height, often calling out loudly – this means they’re breeding nearby. Swifts nest in holes, so we’d also like to know if you see swifts entering holes in buildings – usually high up under the eaves.

The best time to look for nesting swifts is from late May to late July, around dusk on a warm, still evening or early in the morning.

RSPB UK Migrants Recovery Programme Manager, Guy Anderson said: “Swifts are true globetrotters, flying thousands of miles, but returning each year to nest in the very eaves of our homes. Just look at that Swift - back to its nest in your house, or local church tower, or old factory building – and think about it for a moment. It weighs about the same as a small chocolate bar. But it spent the winter in the skies over central Africa. Maybe over the Congo basin rainforest? Maybe over Malawi or Mozambique? It likely hasn’t stopped flying since it left its nest site last year.”

Posted on: 12 May 2020

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