Survey underway to locate rare breeding swifts in Louth

BirdWatch Ireland, in conjunction with Louth County Council’s Heritage Office, is currently undertaking a survey of swift nesting across the county.

Nationally Swifts have declined in numbers by over 57% over the 20 year period between 1998 and 2016, this decline is anecdotally reflected locally in the towns and villages of Louth. The survey aims to locate and catalog the nesting grounds of swifts in localities across the county.

Swifts have adapted over hundreds of years to nest in man-made structures and are found in all kinds of buildings. They nest under roof tiles, in cracks and crevices, masonry gaps and anywhere they can access small cavities. Due to their chosen nesting sites, they are usually found in older buildings.

For this reason, their nesting sites can be vulnerable when these buildings undergo repairs and upgrades or even demolition. Their decline is partly due to the loss of established nesting sites and the fact that modern buildings are designed and constructed to restrict their access. We basically built Swifts from our real estate stock.

This, together with other environmental pressures, is leading to severe declines in species throughout their range.

BirdWatch Ireland and experienced local volunteers are currently scouring the county for Swift nesting sites. So far this summer, Swifts have been identified in 9 towns and villages in Louth with over 50 confirmed nesting sites to date.

Survey work will continue until August, when the birds finally leave for their winter quarters in southern Africa.

The County Louth Swift survey marks the 16th Swift survey undertaken by BirdWatch Ireland on behalf of local authorities across the country.

These surveys as well as the Louth survey are highly dependent on information and assistance from local people and volunteers. BirdWatch Ireland thanks the local branch of BirdWatch Ireland, the birdwatchers and citizen scientists who have helped and contributed to the recordings to date.

If you know of a building where swifts nest in County Louth, please send details (location, approximate number of swifts) to [email protected]

The County Louth Swift Survey is a collaboration between BirdWatch Ireland and County Louth Council’s Heritage Office, supported by the Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

For more information on swifts and how you can help your local swifts, download the free BirdWatch Ireland ‘Saving Swifts’ guide from www.birdwatchireland.ie.

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