Scarborough Swift Group makes "flying start" with nest boxes as endangered bird faces shortage of nesting sites

Members of Scarborough Swift Group have got off to a “flying start” this Spring getting ready for the annual return of the endangered birds.

Scarborough Swift Group and its partners have put up new nesting boxes in Scarborough, Pickering and Whitby.
Scarborough Swift Group and its partners have put up new nesting boxes in Scarborough, Pickering and Whitby.

Group members have spent the winter making swift bird boxes with many already in position and their work has spread further afield partnering with volunteers in Filey, Pickering and Whitby.

The group has also taken House Martins under its wing as, like the swift, it is on the RSPB conservation red list.

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Rob Stark, Chair of Scarborough Swifts said: “From our surveys last summer we have identified swift hotspots such as Eastfield, Barrowcliff, Seamer, Burniston, Scarborough old town and South Cliff Scarborough.

“Erecting boxes in these areas will increase existing colonies but we also want to see boxes go up in other areas, as well as swift bricks on new builds and roof improvements.”

Mr Stark explained that as buildings are modernised or roofs repaired the swift and house martin nesting sites are often destroyed or accidentally blocked.

“These birds are really suffering from a shortage of nest sites,” he said.

Mr Stark said the roof designs - especially the protuding joists - of houses built in the 40s and 50s, seem particularly popular with the birds.

But he added, pre-manufactured swift bricks are a great way to give the birds a permanent, unobtrusive nest when there is a new build or roof repair, being inexpensive and long-lasting.

Richard Scullion, from Thornton Dale is lead box maker and recently spent four days erecting boxes in Scarborough, Pickering and Whitby.

The group said the Whitby area has nearly 50 recently installed boxes and five swift bricks.

In Pickering at least 20 new boxes have gone up this year and the group has “ambitious targets” for the next few weeks.

The Scarborough group has notched up 40 recent boxes and ten bricks.

In order to attract swifts looking for nesting places, the sound of “screaming” swifts is being broadcast from automated sound systems used alongside the new boxes at Scarborough Rugby Club, Scarborough Council Dean Road Depot, Scalby Mills and in Whitby.

Screaming refers to the noise swifts make. They gather in “screaming parties” flying around a nesting area calling out and being answered by nesting swifts, encouraging them to use the site.

For a nest box or advice contact [email protected] or call 07737400962.