Saving Our Swifts!

They depend on us and our homes

Beautiful high flying swifts return to us every year after the long arduous flight from central Africa. They only stay with us for a short time in the summer but while they are here, they will nest in our eaves and give birth to the next generation. Then before you know it, the parents are off back to Africa and then the young fly themselves back once they are old enough! Swifts are beautiful, astonishing birds, capable of amazing feats (to learn more about them see the slideshow below) but they are in real trouble in the UK.

Our swifts’ fates are in our hands

So what has gone wrong? Swifts nest in gaps in the eaves of houses and they return to the exact same nest every year. The problem is, we are sealing up our homes and building loft conversions and when the swifts come back they find their nest sites closed up and inaccessible. Sadly they will bash themselves against the now blocked holes desperately trying to get in! And without a nest, they won’t breed, and that has led to a staggering decline of swifts in the UK. So what can we do? The best thing to do is provide the swifts with nesting spots that won’t be blocked or destroyed. So EWG initiated the  Saving Ealing’s Swifts project. We crowd funded over £11,000 to purchase 150 swift nest boxes, calling systems to attract them to the new boxes, and the services of a local contractor to install them. This spring we have started phase 1 and have been installing these boxes on private homes in Ealing and public buildings such as churches and schools and equipping each site with a calling system. This system is a small USB speaker with a recording of swift calls as the swifts are attracted to areas that already have swifts.

The project will continue throughout the summer as we navigate the trickier installations on the taller historic buildings. We are also looking for other streets that want to become Swift Street Champions. There are a few requirements that must be met for a box to be successful but if you have a site with these requirements and if you and your neighbours would like to host these iconic birds and bring them back from the brink of extinction, please get in touch!

Look at this wonderful Ealing swift story by @mx.momac aka Fiona’s daughter Issy!


During our initial fundraiser, we posted daily swifts facts to get everyone as excited about swifts as we are and to show people how fascinating they are. This slideshow is a nostalgic recollection of that time and hopefully a fun way to learn more about swifts!