Cairngorms National Park

View to Braemar

Action to save swifts

27th May 2005

Swifts are one of the most dramatic birds of summer and are often seen flying high above towns and villages in the Cairngorms but all is not well with these summer visitors.  As a result, the Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) is seeking help to ensure swifts continue to thrive in the Cairngorms.

The British Trust for Ornithology’s latest research highlighted a 62 per cent decline in swift numbers across Scotland over the last ten years.  A probable cause for this decline is a reduction in nest sites – the old buildings that are preferred by swifts are being replaced or renovated, removing the places that swifts use for nesting.

So what can the public do to help swifts?  Stephen Corcoran, the Cairngorms LBAP Officer said: “Swifts have just arrived in the Cairngorms from Africa and will be here until August so now is the time to go out and see them. However, if we want swifts to continue to thrive in the area we need the public to help us. One thing people can do is collect data on swifts by taking part in the Cairngorms Swifts Nest Survey.  All people need to do is identify and record where swifts are nesting in the local community and send the details to the LBAP Officer.”

Planning officers at the CNPA also have suggestions for people who want to help swifts.  Andrew Tait, Planning and Development Control Officer said: “Buildings are vital for hole-nesting birds like swifts and we want to encourage people to consider the needs of swifts when undertaking building work.  Boxes or specially designed bricks can be incorporated into most building designs, and it is usually possible when renovating a building to leave small holes in walls or in the roof to allow access for these clean birds.  Such solutions are quite straight forward and inexpensive.”

A survey leaflet with details on swifts, what they look like, where they nest and complete with a tear-off slip to record your sightings is now available. Contact Stephen Corcoran on tel: 01479 870528 or email: for a leaflet, or look out for copies in your local area.  Information on which buildings swifts are nesting in is essential to ensure such sites are protected.