Manningtree Swifts Need You!

One of the very few good things about the first lockdown in 2020 was the opportunity to spend time discovering the wildlife in our gardens or on our daily walks. Many of us enjoyed putting out food for the garden birds but other visitors need our help in other ways.

One of the fastest and most graceful birds visits our area every year from late April to early August, spending most of its life in flight, even eating, drinking, sleeping and mating in the air! The only time this precious bird touches the ground is to nest, lay eggs and raise it’s young, and that’s where we come in.

Yes, I’m talking about the swift. As supreme aerialists, swifts have few natural predators but, despite this, they are in serious decline. Their numbers have fallen by 58% over the last 25 years and this is partly because the number of suitable nesting sites has dramatically reduced.

Swifts prefer to nest in the eaves and loft spaces of buildings and, while older properties tended to have lots of nooks and crannies, modern refurbishment,

building techniques and materials deny them access. With the helpf of PACE Manningtree (Practical Actions for Climate and Environment) and Manningtree Town Council, Manningtree Swifts have started a project to encourage the installation of swift nesting boxes on suitable properties across the town and into neighbouring Mistley and Lawford.

The boxes will need to be installed in groups of at least three as the swifts like to nest in colonies and a swift call will need to be played for short periods to attract their initial interest. As they don’t leave a lot of droppings outside their nest sites, homeowners often don’t realise they have nesting swifts. A swift chick will leave the nest at just four-six weeks old and will then fly constantly for two-three years until it is time for it to seek a nest site itself.

We hope that this project will increase the numbers slicing through the skies above our town and villages and will help these fascinating birds to thrive.

If you would like more information and/or to discuss a potential nest box site, please either email [email protected] or ring 07580 860423. The swifts will thank you for it!

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