We are swifts – we are in trouble

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As part of the programme to support our threatened population of swifts in the Channel Swift. Photo by Tony LoaringIslands Vic Froome has produced a wonderful booklet on the incredible swift, its life and how we can help it. See how to get a copy at the bottom of this page.

Vic was given permission to make changes to a booklet published originally by Action for Swifts (read the UK 2nd edition here) and make it more appropriate for a Channel Islands audience. Paul Hillion and Melody Press in Guernsey helped in design and printed the booklet. M & S (Guernsey), The Channel Islands Co-operative Society and Ronez funded the costs of production and helped make the booklet available to RSPB Guernsey Group, La Société Guernesiaise, Alderney Wildlife Trust and Birds On The Edge.

The booklet includes information of artificial boxes and ideas for helping swifts find sites to nest.

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In Guernsey, swifts breed in a variety of ‘typical’ locations like churches and housing. Vic has received sterling support in his campaign to educate about what is happening to swifts and how everyone can help through often simple measures like the provision of boxes where access to holes in buildings has been prevented. It all starts with remembering about the swifts!

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Rather curiously, in Jersey, we only know of swifts nesting in fortifications (castles, towers and a fort), part of the St Helier Harbour walls and fully natural sites on the north coast like Plémont. There are no records of swifts in any houses or churches which seems rather strange. Roderick Dobson (in 1952) reported the same situation (and pretty well the same sites) that we see today. Dobson also reported a decline in swifts at Mont Orgueil because or repairs and pointing to the walls – something the birds are again facing! This year we plan to give the swifts help in the castle by improving nesting opportunities modifying some of the post holes in the walls. We expect to be able to report more on this project soon.


The 28 page booklet will be free to anyone who would like a copy and will be available at several locations around the Islands so please look out for it. However, you can also download a copy here thanks to Melody Press.




3 thoughts on “We are swifts – we are in trouble

  1. I have had swifts nesting in a hole near a high part of a sea wall for as long as I can remember, near and overlooking my home. I am now over 70.
    I believe I told you when I was on your course last spring.
    They did not nest there last year for the 1st time.
    I started to keep a record of their arrivals in 1981. Should have done it earlier !
    Regardless of the weather at the time, their arrival were very regular. Between 5th May and 16th.
    One could almost set the date on it !
    Last year, and as I say , Ist time for 60 years, they did not nest here.
    I did hear some make their distinctive, early evening, fly past 2 or 3 times, but they were obviously coming from some other ‘ home ‘. Not in the old nest and very infrequent.
    Sad, really.
    I always log the interesting birds that I see, so look forward to the 1st week or so of May and hope we get more luck this year.

    Kindest regards,


    • Stan, many thanks again for your support and your love of swifts. Your house or the adjacent sea wall might well be a good place for some swift boxes. You might need to lure the swifts back it might be possible. Lets try and get their numbers back up!

  2. Great to see this! Myself and a colleague have a similar project going here with a small grant for the construction and placing of swift boxes, educational talks, leaflets and info for construction companies etc.

    We will also be monitoring, ringing and so on (starting this summer) and I’ve been talking to the Uni who may be able to match equipment for tracking with funding (if we can find the funding…)

    I’ve found that people are very ready help once they know – and pictures of fledgling swifts with big eyes and lovely long eyelashes do help!

    I’ll have a website up at some point. It might be good to link up and see if there aren’t ways that we can help & support each other (I’m in Northumberland, UK).