A wildlife project in Exeter which is asking residents to record sightings of swifts has put up the first of its specially designed nest boxes around the city.
Swifts arrive from Africa at the beginning of May, but their numbers are known to be in decline. The Exeter Wild City project, a partnership between Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council, has teamed up with the RSPB to deliver the Exeter Swift Project. With public support the project is using a survey to discover where swifts are choosing to nest in the city. It is now starting to install new nest boxes to protect and expand current colonies.
The project received a £27,500 grant from the Alcoa Foundation in December last year. This support is being used to purchase specially designed nest boxes that will be installed in key locations around the city.
Emily Stallworthy from the Devon Wildlife Trust said: “There has been a severe decline in swifts throughout the country with numbers falling by up to 30% in recent years. Swifts spend most of their lives on the wing and rely heavily on man-made structures in which to nest. Appropriate nesting locations, however, have also been in decline. We are now proactively providing new nesting spaces for these amazing birds so we hope they will take to them quickly and breed successfully this year.”
Newtown Primary School was the first school to put swift boxes up. The school is playing swifts calls to try and entice swifts to nest in the new boxes. Pupils will be keeping an eye out to see if the boxes are successful. Modern Schools Exeter is also putting boxes up in five of their schools; installation should be completed this week.
More information about how to help swifts can be found on the charity’s website www.devonwildlifetrust.org/swifts