BANDON Environmental Action Group (BEAG) in partnership with the West Cork Branch of Birdwatch Ireland has arranged for the installation of five swift boxes on or adjacent to McSweeney’s Quay in the West Cork town.
Swifts depend largely on nooks and crannies in old buildings to breed, but they spend almost all of their lives, outside of breeding, in the air.
Swift populations are reported to have significantly declined globally in the last decade. Much of this is attributed to the loss of natural breeding sites and the absence of suitable nest sites due to modern building techniques.
The birds travel thousands of miles to return year after year to one nesting site. However, the recent trend to redevelop old buildings and regulations regarding the insulating of homes means many of these natural sites are no longer available.
Swift boxes increase the chances of them occupying the boxes which in the long-term could prove a vital factor in their very survival.
The five swift boxes which were recently installed are made up of two treble boxes and three doubles. The members of Bandon Environmental Action Group hope to increase the numbers of this iconic master of the air in Bandon.
This project could not have happened without the generous cooperation of proprietors in Bandon, and the members of BEAG are very grateful to most notably McLoughlin’s Pharmacy, O’Donovan’s Family Grocer, and the Bandon Methodist Church.
Special thanks have also been extended to Ward and Burke Construction for agreeing to install the boxes which are all up in time for the arrival of the summer visitors who fly about seven thousand miles each year.
Swifts have long lifespans. They can live for at least 21 years. During their lives, they fly about two million miles, which is equivalent to more than four trips to the moon and back.
Their annual migration is a 14,000-mile round trip. To make their nest they catch bits of stuff from the air, like feathers, leaves, dandelion clocks, and dry grass. They then stick it together with their saliva. After they leave the nest they keep flying for two to three years until they’re ready to find a partner.