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Apus apus

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Swifts are on the Amber List of Birds of Conservation Concern. More than half of British swifts have been lost since 1995, probably because of a number of factors. We know from scientific evidence and the absence of bugs on our car windscreens that there have been very significant declines in flying insects, their food source. As migratory birds, weather events associated with climate change will also impact them. But one very obvious issue in the UK is the loss of nesting sites in recent decades because of the modernisation of buildings, because swifts require suitable hollows and crevices in the eaves. In Wanstead, locals certainly report heavy falls in the number of swifts we see and hear in our skies over the summer.


  • If you’re lucky enough to have swifts nesting in your building, protect them by ensuring any building work near their nests is carefully managed. 

  • Put a special swift nest box under the eaves of your roof – or if you are having new building or renovation work done, incorporate ‘swift bricks’, which create nest holes integrated into the masonry. Find out more

  • Email your local Councillors asking them to demand that any new developments in Redbridge incorporate swift bricks. 

  • Make your garden a haven for flying insects – that means one thing, lots of foliage. Large areas of paving for drives and patios are disastrous for city insects and wildlife more generally – dig some of it up or cover it with planters to re-green your plot. Flying insects need flowers across the year – look out for ones with the Plants for Pollinators logo ( find ideas). Other great habitats for insects are long-grass areas, mini wildflower meadows, leaf and log piles and bug hotels. 

  • Install a wildlife pond - which are magnets for hoverflies and other insects. 

  • Never use pesticides or weedkillers in your garden. Instead, aim to attract lots of different wildlife to keep things in balance, using biological pest control if necessary. Lobby the council to stop spraying pesticides around our streets.

  • Reduce light pollution by ditching unnecessary night lights in your garden - it is thought to be contributing to the dramatic decline in insects.