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Swift Decline

The Spring sees the arrival of many species of birds and their birdsong. The Swifts are the last to arrive and, depending on conditions, will arrive by late April or early May after spending winter in the sky over Africa and sleeping in the sky on the wing. How do they do that? It’s one of nature’s wonders.


How to spot a Swift

When the Swifts arrive, they will feed over Boxmoor skies for a few days to gain strength and then settle down to breed. Try to count them as they cut through the sky. It’s not easy, as they fly so fast, but if you count more than eight on their arrival then we have a promising start. There will be hundreds at Tring Reservoirs for a few days as they refuel on gnats etc before moving across the country.

Swifts are a dark brown colour, but they appear all black in flight. Don’t confuse them with the smaller, slimmer, colourful Swallows, which have longer tail streamers, or the stubby white-rumped House Martins, both can feed in the same air space. At times there can be dozens of Swallows and House Martins flying above us as they travel in search of food.


Worrying decline

Swifts have declined nationally by 38% in just 20 years. There were as few as six nests in Hemel Hempstead in 2019 and this is a worryingly low number which is why the Box Moor Trust has launched the swift box project to help to get numbers up again.


Swift box project

With help from local builder’s merchant SELCO and Lockers Park School, the Box Moor Trust has been working to help boost the Swift population in the local area by building swift boxes.

SELCO provided the wood for the boxes, and staff and pupils at Lockers Park cut the templates and built some boxes as part of their Technology studies. The Trust’s volunteers and the Box Moor Rangers helped to build the rest. 

Please contact us if you would like a free box.


Did you know?

Returning young Swifts like to nest near their parents.

We know that there is a colony in Lockers Park Lane. There are also nests in Baylie Lane and Great Elms Road.  If you live on or close to one of these roads and would like a free box, please contact us.

Let’s hope the Swifts beat all the dangers on migration and return with their young this Spring. It won’t happen straight away, as it can take two or three years for boxes to be occupied and there is always a chance that House Sparrows will use the boxes, but we must try.