Campaign Launched To Save Ealing's Swifts

Local wildlife group wants to put up a large number of nesting boxes

Swifts nest during the summer in the eaves of Ealing's buildings
Swifts nest during the summer in the eaves of Ealing's buildings


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An appeal is being made by the Ealing Wildlife Group (EWG) for support for its plan to erect a large number of nesting boxes for Swifts in the area.

The group says that the urban bird species has seen serious declines in recent years partly due to loft conversions and renovations and the boxes will boost biodiversity in the area.

The target is to raise £10,200 for the boxes and over 10% of that amount has already been pledged.

The EWG says that the Swift is a remarkable summer visitor to the UK, arriving in April from Africa & leaving in September. They nest in colonies, under eaves of buildings & homes and feed on flying insects high in our summer skies. Amazingly they only land to nest, spending the rest of their lives in the air, even sleeping & mating on the wing. They're increasingly threatened by loss of nesting sites to loft & roof renovations.

It adds, “The good news is that we can reverse these declines by providing them with specifically designed artificial nest boxes, especially where they have lost traditional eaves to nest in. We would especially like to focus on erecting nest boxes on schools and public buildings to educate children and local communities about our impact on biodiversity and how nature conservation can help our threatened wildlife.

“These astonishing birds travel the globe facing many dangers en route, returning to Ealing each summer where they were born. This project will ensure they can remain here.”

If the target is reached that will allow 150 new nest boxes to be purchased and erected which will boost existing and attract new colonies of Swifts.

The boxes would be sited on public buildings across the borough where it is hoped they will engage the public with nature conservation.

In addition the group would design and install permanent education/information signage to showcase the value of Swifts and urban wildlife.

The group says, “The benefits of this are that we would be providing obvious and visible focal points for conservation & educating how to mitigate human damage to birds' breeding habitat. We would have signage to explain the requirement to have varied landscapes within the local environment to support a variety of wildlife. This would have significant benefits in terms of local engagement in habitat preservation and an understanding of the importance of other species in the food chain such as insects. Swifts are colony birds so their presence is easy to recognise and we have seen that other bird projects within the borough have generated huge local excitement.”

The plan is to encourage local inclusion and awareness of the project, and EWG members will be asked to erect their own Swift boxes, bought or home made.. With rear access to some nest boxes the EWG will ring birds & gather information to share globally & monitor Ealing's birds. Each breeding pair spends its winter in Africa alone but return to breed again under the very same eave with their lifelong partner. Their youngsters return to breed on the same street above our homes & gardens for just a few short months each summer.

The EWG concludes, “The sounds of Swifts above our heads are the epitome of summer & their departure each year can be tinged with sadness. But even sadder is when they return to find their nest site has been blocked or disappeared. By putting in nest boxes we can protect and conserve this iconic species for future generations.”

You can make a contribution to the Swift appeal on the Spacehive website.

Ealing Wildlife Group is involved in a number of conservation projects and is always keen to hear from anyone who would like to volunteer.

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November 18, 2021


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