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.     http://www.swift-conservation.org/

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 – http://birdtablenews.com/2009/04/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.



  1. Andy

    As far as the Swift population is concerned I have not seen any yet. Swallows began ‘roosting’ with us about six years ago, with two pairs. Now, we have at least 12 pairs and a regular returning squadron of these provide a thrilling show of aerobatics. This year we had two pair (early), in April. This is amazing for Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From Finches to Buzzards seem strong in numbers this year.

  2. Ros

    Today we have had a flock of about 50 diving and circling over our village near Dartmouth, Devon. They don’t seem to be nest building and I wondered if the recent drought had affected their building materials.

  3. enid wilson

    hi its may 2012 now and we have not had a return of our swifts this year. we had about 8 nesting last year and around 30 flying every day. this year we have been eagerly waiting brcause surely summer cant start without them but they havnt arrived yet and only about 4 pairs flying about. what a sad loss.

  4. Trish Post author

    Hi Enid, I agree it is a sad loss.

    It’s something that is out of our control. We can only watch and hope they return.

    We are the same here in Yorkshire, but more so with swallows for us. Over the years the numbers have dropped.

    Is it the change in weather? Is it people catching the birds? Is it a lack of insects for them to eat? Is it that there are more predator birds about?

    I only know that we miss them arriving and the sky is so bare without them flitting about so expertly


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *