The Common Swift, an iconic summer visitor to our shores, is on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List - a list of species whose population is in the most serious decline. This is partly due to the loss of suitable breeding locations: the focus on energy efficiency in modern buildings means access to roof space that is so vital to the Swifts has gone. Without our help, parties of Swifts screaming through our streets may become a thing of the past and we would be denied the “Sound of Summer”.

A bird that has evolved to sleep at dizzying heights at night on the wing when away from their nesting duties, the Common Swift winters over the African Congo, chasing weather fronts to take advantage of the rising insect fare and can live to 20+ years of age. Their young are capable of going torpid and unfed for over two days in poor weather conditions whilst their parents are far away foraging in favourable weather. But they still need a home to grow up in!

So how can you help? Swifts are usually faithful to their nest sites, returning year after year, and the installation of a swift box or brick can lead to breeding success for generations of birds. A swift brick has a small entrance that leads to a nesting cavity, designed specifically to meet a Swift's requirements. Swift boxes should be installed as close to the eaves of your property as possible, at least 5m above clear ground, and ideally facing north or somewhere out of direct sunlight. As Swifts are colonial nesting birds, installation of more than one box can bring better results (please note boxes should be positioned a metre apart and not over windows or doorways). What's more, bricks & boxes don't just help Swifts - other species can also benefit such as House Martins, House Sparrows, Great and Blue Tits.

Further details of how you can help Swifts can be found on the Swift Conservation website here, and the RSPB have information on how you can make a swift nest box which can be found here.