Amazing Swifts – Reversing the Decline

The amazing life of a swift was the topic of our talk on Thursday 4th April in Hotel Newport. Lynda Huxley, founder of Swift Conservation Ireland together with Jaroslaw Majkusiak, who has completed a Masters on the Swift, gave us some fascinating insights into this amazing bird and why we need to protect it.

Did you know that, unless nesting, Swifts spend their whole lives in flight – eating, sleeping and even mating. They migrate thousands of miles for the warmer climates of Africa over the winter (where they never land!) and return to Ireland around mid-April to breed. They leave again in September so we only have them for a few short months but Ireland is a critical destination of choice for breeding and they are very particular about their nests. Contrary to what some people think, the Swift does not leave droppings under its nest – instead it keeps a pristine home for its young to thrive in. Inside the nests (which are hidden nests, typically inside nooks or crannies of old, historic buildings) the swift will often exercise by doing push ups on its wings….getting ready for the exhausting journey and flight it will take when it leaves.

Artificial light at night also has a role to play in helping the swift. As they feed at night they are often blinded when leaving their nest when flood lighting is directed up anthem. By avoiding flood lighting on buildings, particularly heritage buildings, you can help the swift to feed at the right time and avoid predation. Our project in Newport successfully returned a nest under threat to natural conditions but there are many more under similar concern.

Swifts need our help as their nesting sites are often lost due to building renovations or change of building purpose. If you think you can provide a nesting site for swifts – there are very successful programmes that Lynda and Jarek are leading to encourage the population and they can help you install the right nest box and calling system. Through the dedication of Lynda and her team, Mayo is one of the few counties to actually see a swift population increase in recent years.

Be part of the story for this amazing bird and get in touch via

Scroll to Top