Plans for swift boxes take flight

  • 25
  • Oct

Islington Council has committed to installing ‘swift bricks’ on every suitable new council development across the borough to help protect these endangered birds.

Swifts are found in many parts of Islington, nesting in tiny gaps in the structure of buildings. Their numbers have fallen by about 50 per cent over the past 20 years, largely due to renovation and conversions destroying their nesting sites without replacement.

Most new buildings are completely unsuitable for them, but from now on any new council development, such as new council homes, made of a masonry construction that reaches approximately 5 metres or higher, will include homes for these remarkable birds.

The council will also be updating planning conditions to specifically require swift bricks, and in the upcoming review of the Local Plan – a key local planning document – the installation of swift bricks will be made a requirement, not just on Council developments, but on all appropriate developments.

Michael Priaulx from Islington Swifts Group said: “It’s great news that the council is recognising the particular concern about the rapid decline of swifts, an urban bird still found in good numbers of many parts of Islington, but in danger of being lost as their traditional nesting-sites in disappear.

“Let’s hope that this exciting news will help to keep swifts as the sight and sound of summer in Islington for many years to come.”

Michael Priaulx shows what a swift brick looks like

The Council’s decision came after a suggestion from Highbury East councillor, Osh Gantly, who said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to make this commitment, which will help the number of swifts in Islington to grow after being endangered for so many years. Swifts bring us all great pleasure and I am so happy we can make that happen for more people in Islington.”

Swifts have been seen in large numbers around Avenell Road in Highbury N5 for at least 20 years, and have recently been confirmed to be nesting at Islington Council’s art deco-style block Aubert Court (built around 1950).

Swifts are faithful to their nests and return to it year-after-year, after completing a 10,000 mile round trip to Africa each winter. They are very unobtrusive at their nest sites, are quiet and do not leave droppings.

For more information about swifts, visit Islington Swifts Group

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