SWIFTS have nested in Taunton for hundreds of years.

Landing only to raise their young, swifts are largely aerial birds that can be seen flying low over the rooftops in screaming groups on warm summer evenings.

The world’s fastest bird in level flight, swifts are remarkable for many reasons: they eat, sleep, mate, bathe and feed on the wing, even collecting nesting material on the wing.

A two-year-old swift probably won’t have landed until it is mature enough to nest. Incredibly, this means that it has flown non-stop between sub-Saharan Africa and the UK at least twice before it finally lands.

Unfortunately, UK swift numbers are falling rapidly and have decreased by 50% in the last 25 years.

Surveys of Taunton’s swifts have revealed a similar trend.

As we modernise our homes, the small spaces that swifts need to nest - under our roof tiles, behind fascia boards and in our walls - are disappearing.

Swifts are relatively clean birds and many homeowners do not realise they have nesting swifts at all: when refurbishment takes place, a swift nest site can be lost without anyone realising.

Swift nest boxes are one way of safeguarding swift populations for generations to come.

In recent years, nest boxes in Taunton and surrounding villages have created a spark of hope for our swifts as they begin to discover these alternative nest sites.

If you fancy making your own swift nest box, you can view construction plans at the Bristol Swifts website or, if you prefer to buy them ready-made, they can be bought online or from local producer GM Birdboxes.

For a GM Birdbox brochure, email tauntondeaneswifts@gmail.com.

We can also provide advice on box installation and other ways in which you can help Taunton Deane’s swifts.

Taunton Deane Swifts