National survey to save the
A NATIONAL survey is underway to protect a little bird
that would give a busy airline a run for its money.
The swift, a popular summer
visitor, can fly a staggering five million kilometres
during its lifespan of up to 21 years. The speedy,
swooping little creature spends virtually all its life
on the wing.
But it has been in decline in Ireland in recent decades
due to several factors including the loss of nest sites,
food and changing climate patterns.
BirdWatch Ireland is now appealing for volunteers to
take part in a National Swift Survey to help identify
breeding sites across the country. Volunteers are also
needed for a Dublin Swift Survey to help identify and
map breeding sites in the capital city.
The organisation's recent Countryside Bird Survey
revealed an "alarming" 39 per cent decline in the swift
population in the past 15 years.
"Reasons for their decline remain unknown, but it is
thought that the loss of available nest sites due to the
renovation of old buildings and the impacts of climate
change could be significant factors," said BirdWatch
Ireland development officer Niall Hatch.
A drop in the availability of flying insects as a food
source, due to a succession of wet summers, is also
threatening the bird’s survival.
The swift (Irish: Gabhlán gaoithe), also colloquially
known as the 'screecher' or 'jack squealer' can be
mistaken for swallows, house martins and sand martins.
The Swift, a little bird that would
give a busy airline a run for its money.
However, it is
distinguishable from these species by its all-dark
plumage and lack of white belly.
"Information collected through these surveys will help
our knowledge of swifts so that more nest sites can be
provided and protected," added Mr Hatch.
BirdWatch Ireland will shortly host a number of National
Swift Survey events in Dublin, Mayo, Kildare and Cork
and volunteers are invited to go along.
For more information email