Along with many other wild birds, the survival of swifts is threatened by fishing, habitat destruction, insecticides, insensitive planning, pollution and hostile agricultural techniques here in the UK and Europe.
Swifts are beautiful birds and being supreme aerialists, they spend almost all their life in the air, only landing to breed. These amazing birds are in London for just three months each Summer, bringing spectacular action, drama and excitement to our city, town and village skies before they migrate to Central and Southern Africa to spend our Winter there.
Although originally cave, tree-hole and cliff nesters, swifts have nested here in man-made buildings since Roman times. They still breed in our eaves and gables, but as modern and renovated buildings exclude them, The Swift Conservation are warning that unless we do something about it now, this species will vanish from the UK.
Swifts have lost about half their population in this part of the UK in recent years and the main cause appears to be re-roofing, insulation and other renovation and demolition works. Concerned Merton residents are therefore calling for swift boxes/bricks to be installed in the borough’s buildings, including schools (an ideal time with the school expansion programme), and for the planning department to require/recommend it as part of planning applications.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that there are no plans to adopt a Species Action Plan for swifts or a policy that will promote nest sites in new buildings and property renovations in Merton at the present time.
We very much support the need for action in the borough and hope many more of you get behind these birds too!
Visit the swift-conservation.org for more information about why swifts matter, ideal homes for them and how you can help (plus lots more!).
The Nature of Cities – Swift Action Needed (by David Goode)