High Fliers

The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens to celebrate wildlife gardening and to encourage people to use their gardens to take action to help support nature. Many of our common garden visitors – including hedgehogs, house sparrows and starlings – are increasingly under threat. But together we can make a difference. This year their focus is on swifts, swallows and martins. There’s a host of information available at Wild about High Fliers | Wild About Gardens

You can see swifts, swallows and martins from March to October and seeing and hearing these beautiful birds on their yearly visit is a delight. However, their numbers are in decline. Sadly, climate change and human interference are their biggest threats.

Swifts and house martins were recently added the Red List, meaning they are globally threatened, have suffered severe declines over the
past 25 years, and need urgent action.

There are a variety of threats to these birds including;

Nests at risk – During home renovations or when insulation is fitted, old nesting sites under the eaves of houses can become blocked.
New buildings often don’t include space for nesting, whether that be eaves or specially designed swift bricks.
Building work carried out during the nesting season (May to September) can disturb or destroy swift and house martin nests, which are protected by law.

Food shortages – Swifts, swallows and martins all rely on insects to feed themselves and their chicks. With insect populations shrinking
at an alarming rate, there’s not much on the menu. Globally over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction and a recent study on nature reserves in Germany found a 75% loss in flying insect biomass over 27 years.

Travelling –  Climate change has made weather more extreme and unpredictable all over the globe, which is bad news for migratory
birds. Stormy conditions when swifts, swallows and martins are migrating endangers their passage and can leave the birds in poor condition when they arrive in the UK. Cool and wet weather during the breeding season also makes it harder to incubate eggs and hunt for insects.

What can you do to help?

  • Leave a patch of grass uncut – it’ll encourage insects thereby providing food for the birds
  • Build a bog garden – this leaves bare mud that the birds can use to build a nest
  • Create insect-friendly borders
  • If you’re building or renovating – leave space for nests

For full information please visit Wild about High Fliers | Wild About Gardens to see how you can get involved.

(credit – wildaboutgardens.co.uk)