Whatever you home or your budget, there are many ways in which we can all help Swifts!
Why do Swifts need our help?
Since the Roman era, Common Swifts have visited our country during Spring and Summer to make their nests under the eaves and in nooks and crannies of buildings. Unfortunately, the design and construction of modern buildings, and the renovation or demolition of older properties, means that many of their traditional nest sites have disappeared. This is thought to be a major cause of the decline in the number of Swifts by 50% since 2000.
In addition to the loss of suitable nest sites, repeated use of insecticides on arable crops has led to an 80% decline in the insect population over recent years - and Swifts eat flying insects! The added challenge of climate change and the resulting extreme weather conditions has also contributed to an increase in Swift mortality.
By providing additional nest box accommodation we aim to increase Swift numbers in Lewes towards their previous levels.
We are happy to advise you about whether your home would be suitable for a nest box - and the best site to place it. To date we have responded to over a hundred enquiries about nest boxes and as a result 58 new single or double nest boxes have been installed across Lewes so far - with more coming soon!
Our leaflet signposts some useful information which may help you to decide whether your home is suitable for a nest box: Information on nest boxes
Not all of us live in homes that are suitable for installing a nest box - read on to find out about other ways in which you might help Swifts!
Peak single nest box installed on a home in De Montfort Road in February 2021
In the Garden
Growing wildflowers or small trees in your garden, avoiding the use of pesticides, or building a pond will all benefit Swifts - through providing more habitats for the insects and other mini-beasts on which the Swifts feed. In a small garden or flat, even a pot or window box of wildflowers will help! Your pond does not have to be a large one - a bucket or bowl submerged in the ground will soon attract interesting wildlife. If you have a lawn, letting the grass grow during May, June and July will also benefit insects - and you may find that some lovely wildflowers appear even if you have not planted any!
Photographs of Wild Carrot, Dropwort and Kidney Vetch found on verges around Lewes
Sponsor a nest box?
If your own home is not suitable for Swifts, why not sponsor a nest box on another property in Lewes?! Contact the secretary via firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to make a donation.
Alternatively, you could sponsor our work by registering for the Local Lottery run by Lewes District Council and choosing Lewes Swift Supporters as your "good cause"! For every £1 lottery ticket bought, 50p is donated to us: leweslocallottery.co.uk/support/lewes-swift-supporters
Fight Climate Change
Lewes Swift Supporters are proud to be affiliated with Lewes Climate Hub, an alliance of local environmental and community groups which provides information and practical advice on projects related to the climate and environment. They are sharing their ideas, advice, plus details of talks and events via their website https://lewesclimatehub.org and at their premises at 2 Fisher Street.
Spread the Word!
A very simple way to help Swifts is to talk about them! Why not share some of the fascinating facts about Swifts with your family and friends, or point Swifts out to them as you see them screaming through the sky above you? The more people there are who recognise and appreciate these wonderful birds, the better chance they will have of becoming a more resilient population!
Swifts help us!
Swifts eat thousands of mosquitoes and aphids every day! This improves both our agriculture and our health. Some tropical disease-carrying mosquitoes are now in Europe - and installing Swift boxes and Bat boxes will help to control them.
Swifts are also thought to improve our well-being. Their call is often used as a sound track to films to create a mood of celebration and happiness. Much recent research, especially during pandemic lockdowns, suggests that the closer you are to Nature, the better you feel!