Swifts in the Town Hall, Bridge Street, Carrick on Shannon

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 Background:

Swift numbers have declined by approximately 40% in Ireland in the past 20 years and the main cause of this is loss of breeding grounds. Swifts nest in buildings in towns and their nests can usually be found at the top of walls or in cavities in brick work. Swifts rely on the buildings in towns for their nest sites. In order to help protect Swifts and secure the future of Swifts in the County their traditional nest sites need to be secured where possible and to provide new nest sites so that the population can recover.

Mr Larry Mitchell, who is based in Longford and has an interest in Swifts , looks after the swift population in the Longford and surrounding area. On his travels though Carrick he spotted that there are some swifts already nesting in the Town Hall (map). Larry has managed to source 4 nesting boxes, one of which he is very kindly and generously donating,  to facilitate and encourage further nesting of these important and increasingly rare urban birds.

So now with the support of Carrick on Shannon Tidy Towns (who have purchased 3 of the boxes) we are in a position to encourage and potentially increasing the nesting areas for the birds in this building. Thanks to the work of Larry Mitchell, Carrick on Shannon Tidy Towns and Leitrim County Council, these 4 nesting boxes will hopefully ensure that the Swifts continue to grace us with their presence in the Town Hall, Carrick on Shannon, for years to come.

Photographs of the Nesting Boxes

Photographs below showing (a) members of Carrick on Shannon Tidy Towns, Cllr. Finola Armstrong-McGuire, Larry Mitchell and Leitrim County Council staff outside the Town Hall, (b) one of the nesting boxes prior to installation and (c) & (d) the nesting boxes in situ.

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How to Identify Swifts:

swifts

The website below outlines the main distinguishing features of Swifts and provides a clear identification guide.  It also allows for a comparison of the main features of Swifts with those of the Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin – birds that are commonly mistaken for Swifts and you can see why based on the images above. However, there are many differences once you know what to look out for. One of the main ones is that the Swift is mainly all over brown in colouring, while the other 3 all have elements of white in their colouring.

·         www.bbc.co.uk

Setting up of Nest Boxes for Swifts

In 2014 Lynda Huxley produced a booklet entitled ‘Notes on the Common Swift and Setting up Nest Boxes’. This is an excellent guide for anyone who wants to find out about encouraging and facilitating the nesting of Swifts in their building/area. A copy of the booklet can be found here.

General Information on Swifts

For more general information on this fascinating bird, the following websites are a useful source of information:

·         www.birdwatchireland.ie

·        www.birdwatchireland.ie

·         www.highlandbiodiversity.com

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