The Swift Project

Swifts have managed to intrigue and fascinate nature lovers and birdwatchers from all over the world due to their unique characteristics. They are truly 'born to fly', and remain airborne for almost their whole life after leaving the nest, landing again only when their time comes to breed. Completely accustomed to humans, the Swifts nest exclusively in cities and villages and bring life to the afternoon sky as they fly in flocks at great speeds over houses and roofs ‘screaming’.

Swifts arrive in Cyprus every year to nest beginning of February and by end of July they return to sub-Saharan Africa to spend the winter. Over the last years however, the number of available nesting sites has been reduced and it is up to us to help these amazing birds that are an integral part of the urban landscape.

What is threatening Swifts?

The two greatest threats Swifts are facing are the intensification of farming which results in reduction of food available for the Swifts (i.e. insects) and the loss of nesting sites.

Because Swifts nest in old buildings the possibility of these buildings being renovated or demolished is very high. When this happens, any holes found in the buildings are fixed and as a result, Swifts cannot find their nests anymore when they return from Africa. What’s even more worrisome is the fact that new buildings do not have such holes or crannies, so nesting options are becoming fewer and fewer!

The current estimated population for Cyprus is 15,000 – 60,000 pairs but this is an already decreased number as the population declined between 25-75% since 2006.

What is BirdLife Cyprus doing for Swifts?

BirdLife Cyprus has started a pilot project with funding from the Tasso Leventis Conservation Foundation and in collaboration with SPNI (BirdLife in Israel) to help Swifts in Cyprus. In Israel, a similar project has been active for years now, with great success. The project’s main actions are the creation of nest boxes and their installation in specific areas, ideal for Swifts, as well as raising awareness among the public. Nest boxes have already been placed on the buildings of the Municipality of Aradippou and the Community Council of Voroklini as well as at the elementary schools of these two communities. 

        

As more conservation actions are planned for this species, it’s also important to ensure that the right policies are in place when restoring old buildings in areas where Swifts nest. This way, existing nesting sites can be protected and if this is not feasible, new nesting sites can be established so that when Swifts return, they can nest there again. Moreover, when demolitions of old buildings are in order, it should be ensured that these do not take place during breeding season (February - July).

How can you help:

• Leave existing nest sites undisturbed and don’t block access to them.
• When repairing buildings, make sure that the new access holes match exactly the location of the old ones.
• Place nest boxes for Swifts in suitable locations.
• Contact us for more information and advice.

 

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P.O. Box 12026
2340, Nicosia Cyprus
(+357) 22 455 072

 
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