Monthly Archives: May 2011


I am really worried!

This year as with every year, summer really doesn’t start until the swifts arrive.

Usually they appear mid to early May, dipping and diving at incredible speed above our little Warwickshire town. Our town is predominately medieval/Elizabethan timber framed houses, many of them still sporting their open eaves and perfect swift nesting roof voids. There are also a good number of outbuildings at the rear of properties which have been used year after year by a long generation of swift families.

This year though, there has been no shrill swift calls and no large aerial displays like other years. In fact we have only noticed 3 or 4 pairs as opposed to the usual 30 or 40 pairs.

The swift nursery we purpose built 7 years ago in our roof void is empty and as May turns to June we are losing hope that they are so mehow delayed and will soon arrive.

We are located in South Warwickshire,  The loss of this magnificent and heart lifting bird, that has graced our skys and is part of our towns historical past, probably from before the time of Shakespeare, is devastating.

Has anybody else experienced a significant drop in the swift/swallow population? Is it possible that they are late arriving this year due to world weather and climate changes (ie volcano eruption, earthquake, tsunami, etc.)?

Could it be the re-introduction of certain birds of prey to the UK? (I have noticed a huge increase in the population of Red Kites on the outskirts of Oxford and they can be seen hovering in large numbers as you drive through on the M40 Oxford to London. They are magnificent birds, but could they be contributing to the loss of our summer migrationary birds?)

Although I know the loss of nesting sites has made it difficult for them in this country, because of the ideal nesting sites we have in our Town, I would not have expected such a dramatic drop as this. I’d love to hear that Swifts are still in abundance elsewhere in the country as without our resident summer aerial performers, the usual festive spirit that accompanies the many street and folk festivals we have in our town, lacks their usual lustre. Kind regards, C. Gray –


I received the above from Gary and have put together some information.

The Swift Conservancy Group would be interested to hear from you and would be able to advise you.

The RSPB have an online  ‘Swift Survey’  

It is worrying and sad this is happening and is outside our control.  It has been said that swifts could be extinct in 20 years.  I hope not.

It is not just that swifts look beautiful but swifts save us from disease –

There was talk of a Swift Tower at the 2012 Olympics


I hope this helps you.  Our swift and swallow numbers have been dropping every year.

It seems to be out of our hands. Lets hope they appear, as if by magic, out of the skies soon.

I will see if I can find anything from other parts of the country. Let me know what you find – if anything.


How can we keep starlings out of feeders?

I’ve had this question. Can anyone help?

Starlings – and how to keep them out of the bird feeder. We have a caged bird feeder, which is meant to keep out squirrels and larger birds, which it does, up to a point. The problem is that although the starlings, pigeons, jackdaws, magpies etc. certainly can’t get through the mesh, they can perch on the outside and reach inside to gobble up the suet/fat. i.e. the cage is too near the food. Do you have a feeder cage which is large enough to prevent even the most persistent starling from stretching his/her neck through the mesh?


This is what I replied.  Any advice from anyone else?

  • Starlings are hard to keep out of feeders.   I’ve found out a lot of birds just reach their beaks inside hanging feeders . I have a ground caged feeder which I bought from Soar Mill Seeds – here is a link. is one with small mesh. Only smaller birds can get into this ground caged feeder  and starlings won’t put their beaks through as they won’t be able to  get to the feed. Put the feed in the middle of the cage.I have blackbirds that come every day but the starlings are here now and just take over. I find I’m putting more feed out just to make sure that the blackbirds get some! Hope this helps
  • Let me know how you come on