They are the aerial acrobats of the sky, spending just three precious months of the year in the UK and have the strength to fly here in just two days from Morocco in readiness for our warmer months.

The Swift, revered for its ability to fly up to 14,000 miles, eating and sleeping on the wing has sadly declined in recent years with falling population numbers.

When arriving back in the UK from Africa, finding a safe private spot to nest is becoming harder, due to places they like, such as eaves and gables, being less available than in the past. Modern houses are built without any gaps for Swifts to nest in, whilst older houses undergoing renovations with replacement fascia and soffits leave no gaps for the Swifts to find. Over time this has led to a 4% decline each year.

Now, a pilot project to introduce nest boxes into the eaves of households across Surrey is proving popular with as many as 25 installed in one village in one day.

The nest box scheme organized by Sarah Davis for Guildford Environmental Forum, has made an installation service available to people who contact them, willing to pay the £35 needed for the wooden box which has a small hole, ideal for the size of a Swift to fly into. The birds which pair up for life always return to the same site each year to nest and lay their eggs.

East Clandon is one of the villages locally that has taken up the offer of the scheme, with boxes being installed in spots suitable to both the home owner and prospective bird.

One location which is now the proud owner of a new Swift box is here at Cherry Trees with our charity keen to take advantage of the offer. With the appeal of prospective birds being visible for visiting children to see. It’s hoped the box now in situ here will home returning Swifts. With a quick and easy installation, the box is one of the newly introduced green measures we are taking this year.

Adrian Thompson, Treasurer and lead on Cherry Trees Green Committee said: “Swifts have been seen in the skies above East Clandon in the recent past but had stopped nesting here. It is excellent that the village and Cherry Trees have taken up this project so enthusiastically. I hope the children will share  Sarah’s enthusiasm for bringing another aspect of the natural world into their lives”.

It’s also hoped the Swifts arrival will inspire bird themed artwork to be explored by children visiting Cherry Trees, as one of the art room sessions they offer.

Sarah Davis from Guildford Environmental Forum Swift Project, who helped install the box at Cherry Trees has been pleased with the initial up take which has seen 46 boxes put up in the last week. The project is being done in conjunction with Hampshire Swifts who design, make and install the boxes.

Sarah Davis said:  "My love of Nature and Conservation all started by watching a colony of Swifts where I used to live as a child. They are fast and exciting birds to watch, and I hope the children at Cherry Trees will experience the same excitement, bringing joy to their summer skies. I am delighted with the enthusiasm and support from the local community. Thanks must go to Cherry Trees for their keen support on Swift Conservation, to Hampshire Swifts for their collaboration and tireless work on this project, and Adrian Thompson for his promotion and endless energy to help restore our environment."

For people interested in housing a swift box under the eaves of their home, they should contact Guildford Environmental Forum ([email protected]) to arrange a future installation or to join the Group.

Image shows: Swift Installation Team from Guildford Environmental Forum and Hampshire Swifts. 

Additional image source: RSPB Swift Bird Facts.

and Swift Conservation