Swifts in Brockley

Common Swifts (Apus apus)

National Swift Day was on 7 June this year, and you may have seen or heard these marvellous birds swooping and weaving overhead in recent weeks. Swifts (Latin name Apus apus) have been visiting Brockley from their winter homes in Africa for hundreds of years.

However, when houses are renovated, the Swifts often find the small holes in roof fascia boards, to which they faithfully return each year, have disappeared. We have lost over half of our Swifts in just the past 20 years, in part due to this loss of nesting sites.

If you are doing home renovations, please consider incorporating a home for the Swifts in your plans! They leave no mess as they eat their own waste, and for just a few pounds you can buy a a Swift Box or Swift Brick (details below) .

If you already have such a swift ‘home’ at your property, you can encourage the swifts to move in by playing a recording of their calls. Swift Conservation, a charity dedicated to all things swift, have very kindly offered to make such a recording available free to visitors to this site!

You can play it directly using the audio player below – or download the mp3 audio file to play on any compatible device here. (Click the 3 dots to open the download option).

The recording will need to be played at some volume, out through an open window, preferably on the upper stories of a house with a swift home. We recommend ‘looping’ the playback so that it runs for about an hour – ideally during the late afternoon/early evening.

Testimonial: “The Swift calls CD which we used 2 years ago has worked a treat. Last year the Swifts established their nest-territory; this year they took up residence in earnest. Thank you!”

For more information about these fabulous seasonal visitors to SE4, and to buy all sorts of swift-related materials including the  nesting boxes and swift bricks, visit the Swift Conservation website at www.swift-conservation.org/

If you are fortunate enough to already have some swifts nesting at your property – or you know of such a location, the RSPB is encouraging people to register the nesting sites as part of their ‘Swift Mapper’ project. Find out more at www.rspb.org.uk/swiftmapper.

“Each year, swifts fly from Africa to the UK to breed, but with numbers plummeting they desperately need your help. In just 20 years, more than half of our swifts have vanished and we believe that the loss of nest sites in the roofs of buildings is at least partly responsible.  By using Swift Mapper, you’ll help locate breeding hotspots for swifts and protect their homes. “

The RSPB also has more general webpages about Swifts, which include identification aids and short recordings of their calls.

Image credit: Common Swift (Apus apus) against sky in Żyrardów, Poland. Image credit: By Tomasz Kuran aka Meteor2017 – Photo taken by Meteor2017, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=187742