Swifts group

Swifts are amazing and beautiful birds that spend almost all of their life in the air feeding on airborne insects, but their numbers have rapidly declined due to their loss of habitat from the demolition and refurbishment of their former nesting sites in building roofs.

We have formed a small conservation group to support the swift population in Henley and intend to increase the numbers of swifts locally by siting more swift nesting boxes in the town each year.  At the same time we hope to encourage interest in these fascinating but threatened birds.

In 2021 we had a good first year, installing 12 nest boxes and their call systems to various locations around the town.  One of the boxes was occupied almost immediately which is quite amazing! Generally juvenile swifts look for a nesting site for the following year and will ‘bang’ it with their wings to choose it for the next season. We managed to identify 12 existing nesting sites in the town but if anyone knows of others please do get in touch. We thoroughly enjoyed watching and hearing some great swift displays over Henley!

Sadly in the Autumn swifts were added to the RSPB’s red list of endangered birds, so it has become even more important to do whatever we can to support them.

In 2022 we will continue monitoring when swifts arrive and watch where they nest and would like help from Henley residents to do this. We hope to record the swift activity in the Henley area in greater detail so that we can begin to assess their numbers and their comings and goings. We also plan to put up more swift boxes and have a list of people hoping to host these wonderful birds.

If you are having any work done to your property which requires blocking up holes and you have had swifts nesting in the past, please can you either use a swift brick in the construction, or put up a nest box externally.  We will be happy to advise at [email protected].

Want to do something to help Swift numbers recover?

Perhaps you could host a swift box on your property (if suitable), or sponsor a box for another site? Putting in a wildlife pond to encourage flying insects is another great way to help. Do get in touch if you would like advice about helping swifts, or if you’d like help with a box.

Missed the inspirational talk on Swifts given by local conservationist Jan Stannard? Don’t worry, you can still catch it on our YouTube channel.