As a member of the Apodiformes family, the common swift is an acrobat of the sky, as well as being the fastest bird in level flight, reaching a top speed of 69.3mph!
Diet: Flying Insects
When to see them: May to August
Behaviour: They eat, sleep and drink on the wing, only landing to breed.
Migratory distance: They travel over 3000miles to and from the African continent
UK breeding population: 59,000+ pairs
UK conservation status: RED
The common swift is listed as red, the highest conservation priority, and requiring urgent action.
Their decline is reportedly due to the increasing pressures on nest and food availability, a direct result of changes in infrastructure and farming practices.
With preference for nesting in small gaps of houses and churches, the increase in property renovations, and removal of soffit gaps has reduced the number of nesting sites available for the species.
Parliament debate Swift bricks.
On Monday 10th July, The Petitions Committee held a debate on a petition relating to the use of swift bricks in new housing, these would greatly increase nesting sites for Swifts, and in turn provide a much needed boost to their low numbers.
You can watch the whole debate below!
How you can help
There are a number of simple ways you can help swift numbers improve:
> Put up Swift Nest Boxes.
> Incorporate Swift bricks into new build properties.
> Plant wild flowers to encourage invertebrate numbers.
> Submit Swift sightings to national surveys.
> Keep a note for a local wildlife rescue in case you find a grounded or injured Swift.
If you find a grounded Swift:
A healthy Swift is capable of taking flight from the ground, if they don't do this when approached, gently pick the swift up and place it in to a secure box.
Contact your closest wildlife rescue to ensure the swift receives the correct care.