Common swift (Apus apus) screaming party silhouetted against the sky as they fly in formation over cottage roofs at dusk

Sheffield Swift City Map off to a flying start!

A new interactive map which allows everyone to help monitor and track the fascinating behaviour of swifts is now live.

Swifts are facing a grave threat. Red listed as a bird of conservation concern in 2021, their numbers have been declining due to habitat loss, modern construction practices and scarcity/loss of nesting sites. Swifts migrate to the UK from Africa in early May for around three months of the year to breed before returning again. They spend almost all of their lives on the wing, but when they need nesting sites in our houses and buildings, they are finding it increasingly difficult to find safe havens to breed and raise their young. Action is needed to protect these incredible birds and ensure their survival.

The Sheffield Swift Map is a tool anyone can use for local swift conservation. It displays the distribution of records of screaming parties and close roof passes associated with swift breeding activity, swift boxes and bricks installed through local conservation activity, confirmed natural swift nest sites and the areas of Sheffield covered by local swift groups.

It has been developed by Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust working with partners with an interest in, and who hold data about swifts, these are Sheffield Swift Network, RSPB Swift Mapper Project, Sheffield Council Biological Records Centre and Sheffield Bird Study Group.

Dr Nicky Rivers, Advocacy and Development Manager at Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust explains:

“Our hope is that this resource and all the information it presents will inspire people to get involved with their local swift group or even start their own! Individuals, local schools and businesses can all use the map to identify good areas to install boxes or bricks for swifts and submit their own records of boxes/bricks, nests and sightings.

Longer term, we plan to use the map and data to determine and illustrate what impact local swift conservation work is having in helping to reverse the species’ decline in Sheffield.”

Chet Cunago from Sheffield Swift Network says:
We have been working hard to increase the nesting provision for swifts in the city and it is great to see all this data brought together in one place. There are loads of actions people can take for swifts. They can fit swift bricks into their homes which will be in the building for life, fit long lasting UPVC swift boxes, or help us find swifts whilst we’ve still a handful of colonies clinging on in Sheffield. If we don’t know where they are, we can’t protect them. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you! You can contact us at https://sheffieldswiftnetwork.org/ or email us sheffieldswiftnetwork@gmail.com”

Using the map and adding your swift sightings or recording the location of your swift boxes is simple. Just visit wildsheffield.com/swift-city/#swift-map to see what’s happening for swifts near you!  To tell us about a swift group in Sheffield not currently represented on the map, please email us at takeaction@wildsheffield.com.