If you’ve ever seen the Red Arrows, you’ll remember the exhilaration you felt from the team’s spectacular aerial display – man and machine in perfect harmony. There’s a bird that can give you that same thrill. In May, swifts will be flying here from Africa. In summer, they can often be seen displaying in the fields around Kirkheaton and Gawthorpe, and dipping into the ponds around the quarry. Their flight is not only spectacular but their whole way of life is spectacular. They eat, drink, mate and sleep on the wing, landing only to breed and feed their chicks.
But not for much longer because the swift is now on the threatened species Red List, having declined by 58% in the last 50 years. Since Roman times, swifts have nested in buildings but our propensity for demolishing and ‘improving’ old buildings has destroyed nesting sites. In addition, our over-use of insecticides has reduced insect population, in turn reducing their food source.
The situation has become desperate but we can do something to help. We can give the birds a ready-made home by simply erecting a nest box under our eaves or If we’re doing building work, we can insert ‘swift bricks’ which provide nesting sites built into the wall.
Now is the time to act before they arrive. We can buy boxes or DIY using on-line plans. If you’re interested in helping, please contact me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.facebook.com/LeedsSwifts