Saving Swifts in Wicklow

Photo:A Swift in Flight

A Swift in Flight

Dick Combes

Photo:Saving Swifts Guide

Saving Swifts Guide

BirdwatchIreland & Local Authority Heritage Officer Network

Photo:Ricky Whelan from BWI gave a talk on swifts as part of the community workshop held in Baltinglass Library on May 10th 2019

Ricky Whelan from BWI gave a talk on swifts as part of the community workshop held in Baltinglass Library on May 10th 2019

D. Burns

A new guide available and a County Survey Underway!

By Deirdre Burns

County Swift Survey Summer 2019

A county Swift survey is currently underway with the aim of identifying for the first time, a baseline population figure for this bird in Wicklow. At two recent community workshops in Bray and Baltinglass, participants heard more from Ricky Whelan, Birdwatch Ireland survey co-ordinator, about the life cycle of this fascinating bird and received copies of a new publication ‘Saving Swifts’ produced jointly by Birdwatch Ireland and Local Authority Heritage Officers. 

Swifts have recently arrived in Wicklow following a long migration from southern Africa.  Slightly larger than a swallow they are a ‘site faithful’ bird, returning generation after generation to buildings in towns and villages to nest and raise young.  Like many of our wild species however, Swifts are increasingly threatened through loss of nest sites and have suffered an alarming 40% population decline in the past decade.  Problems arise when buildings are renovated or torn down removing the Swifts nest sites and sometimes huge nesting colonies can be lost overnight.

 Last year nesting sites were confirmed by Oran O Sullivan, local co-ordinator at Wicklow Town, Rathnew, Kilcoole, Greystones, Coolafancy, Bray, Aughrim, Kiltegan, Knockanarrigan, Coolattin and Rathdrum. It is hoped that with the participation of interested individuals, schools and Tidy Towns groups, this list can be significantly expanded upon this summer.

 Get involved!

Members of the public are being asked to contact local co-ordinator Oran O Sullivan Tel: 087 2339280  or national co-ordinator  Ricky Whelan by e mail  or on 085 783 2545 to report sightings. All information for Wicklow will be uploaded to the National Biodiversity Data Centre at .

A New Guide - Saving Swifts

To support this initiative a new guide ‘Saving Swifts’ has been produced by Birdwatch Ireland and local authority Heritage Officers. This guide contains all the information required for individuals, local groups, schools, businesses or government departments to play a role in helping this amazing and threatened species. Swifts nest in buildings where small gaps allow access to the roof space or cavities in masonry. Their chosen nest sites are often in older buildings which are sometimes dilapidated or in need of renovation.  Awareness about the presence and requirements of Swifts is essential to ensuring that their nest sites are protected as part of renovation works. This typically involves timing works to take place from Sept to May. Also, there are many opportunities to create new nesting sites as part of new development through installing nest boxes or nesting bricks. The information is presented in a colourful and user-friendly format and includes details on Swift ecology; reasons for declines; suggested conservation measures; nest box plans, case studies and much more.

Wicklow County Council is delighted to team up with Birdwatch Ireland on this Swift Project. This initiative forms part of our ongoing programme of biodiversity actions through the County Wicklow Heritage, to record, protect and enhance biodiversity in Wicklow.

 ‘Saving Swifts’ is available as a PDF to download below, or at  website HERE or can be posted to you by contacting Deirdre Burns Heritage Officer on T: 0404 20100 or e mail


This page was added by Deirdre Burns on 14/05/2019.