Swift Survey: June 2012

Swift Bird Survey

They’re some of the last spring migrants to arrive, but the first to leave. You’ve probably seen them speeding through the air, screaming their heads off, or swooping into crevices in buildings.

But they’re in trouble. Swifts are now on the Amber List – they’re birds of Conservation Concern. Their numbers have declined dramatically in the past 10 years; we’re not sure why, but one of the possible reasons is that their nest sites are being destroyed.

The RSPB would like to find out where swifts are seen and where they’re nesting. Look out for low-level screaming groups of swifts (that means they’re breeding nearby) or where you’ve seen swifts nesting – perhaps entering a roof or hole in a building (if you can see the nest, it’s not a swift). The best time to look is around dusk on a warm, still evening, or early morning.

Swifts are unobtrusive when nesting and make perfect, quiet neighbours.


1) How many seen?


2) Were they flying at roof height? (You don’t need to report sightings of swifts that are very high in the sky; these birds could have travelled some distance and may not be local breeding birds).


3) Where did you see them? (Swifts rarely nest in post-1944 buildings, as they can’t gain access).


4) Did you see any swifts disappear into a nesting hole? (Swifts use roof spaces in buildings where they construct a simple nest. These can be hard to locate because swifts enter and leave quietly through a narrow opening measuring 25-35 mm by 60-70 mm and leave few, if any, droppings below the entrance).


5) When did you see them? (Swifts nest May to August).



6) Signs of other bird species? (e.g. House Martins build mud nests below eaves of buildings)

For more information in Peterborough please contact James Fisher, Wildlife Officer at Peterborough City Council on james.fisher@peterborough.gov.uk

Information leaflets:




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