Belfast Telegraph

Public's swift help needed to record nest sites

By Linda Stewart

Swifts are sweeping through Northern Ireland's skies, heralding the return of spring as they search for nesting sites following a 6,000-mile migration.

The RSPB wants volunteers to record any swifts they see in hopes that they will found new colonies in a variety of unusual sites.

'Swift bricks' providing nesting sites have been installed at Parliament Buildings at Stormont, the Crescent Arts Centre and Fold Housing in Belfast, and swift towers installed across the Belfast Hills and at Adelaide rail station.

During their epic migration from Africa swifts never touch the ground. Sadly, they are now on the 'amber list' of birds of conservation concern, as their breeding population has fallen by more than a quarter over 25 years.

The loss of nesting sites is a possible reason for this.

Claire Barnett from the RSPB said: "It is known that swifts nest throughout NI in our villages, towns and cities but we need the public's help to identify exactly where. Once a chick fledges from the nest they may not land for four years – eating, drinking and sleeping on the wing.

"It is important that we know where our swifts are nesting so we can work to help protect them."

To take part in the Belfast Swift City annual survey from May to mid-July contact 028 9049 1547 or email claire.barnett@rspb.org.uk

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