November 30, 2020
News

Smile for the birdie: How you can help protect Wicklow’s Swift population

Wicklow is playing its part in protecting the Swift population in Ireland which is under serious threat due to the loss of nesting sites and suitable feeding habits.

However, there is a lot that can be done to halt the decline in Wicklow’s Swift population.

The Wicklow Swift project, managed by the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council with funding support from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Heritage Council, sets out to help protect this species and stop the decline.  

“Following on from the 2019 survey of Swifts, we now know where Swifts occur in the county and which towns and villages host the biggest numbers.   The support and active engagement of local communities is critical to building greater awareness of this unique bird species and in undertaking conservation action, locally  where it is needed” , commented Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer.

Swifts are a small migratory bird that visit Ireland each year to nest. They travel from southern Africa in early summer, to spend only about 13 weeks in Ireland.

Despite restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, local co-ordinator Oran O Sullivan, managed to focus efforts to get local communities and residents involved in proactive work to protect swifts.

 One of the best activities is to provide suitable nesting sites near existing colonies.  Working with the local authority in Wicklow and Arklow, the Library Service and community and Tidy Town groups, a project that will encourage Swifts to nest in 2021 is now in place.

 Towns such as Arklow, Bray, Greystones, Rathdrum and Wicklow Town have all come on board to provide nestboxes designed specifically for swifts. In west Wicklow, communities have similarly embraced the challenge, with Swift nestbox projects underway in Blessington, Dunlavin and Grangecon. 

“We are confident that other villages in Wicklow are suitable for swift nestbox schemes, why not contact us for advice and information,” added Deirdre Burns.

 If you would like to learn more about the County Wicklow Swift Project and how you can get involved for next seasons project, contact the Wicklow Co Ordinator, Oran O’Sullivan, by e mail: oran@irishgardenbirds.ie .

‘Saving Wicklow’s Swifts’ is an online presentation for  Heritage Week 2020 (15th to 23rd Aug), visit www.heritageweek.ie  for more.

Pictured: Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer;  Cllr Sylvester Bourke;  Claire Lawless, Arklow Municipal District Administrator, and Oran O Sullivan, Wicklow Swift Co-ordinator at Arklow MD offices with the recently installed nesting boxes and calling system visible in the background

 

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