The communities in the East on a mission to save the swifts

  • Watch Tanya Mercer's report

Admired for their aerial acrobats, swifts are the epitome of summer, and the masters of long-distance travel.  

However, their numbers are dropping dramatically - by more than half in 25 years. 

Swifts return every year to their exact nesting sites, so when these are destroyed so too is the swifts' chance to breed.

Now, communities across the region are coming together to help save the birds.

The only time the swifts land is to find a safe space to breed. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In Woodbridge people have been putting up swift nestboxes, including the local school, cinema and rowing club.

They now have around 100 boxes in the area and are already seeing an improvement in the number of birds.

Swifts spend most of their lives in the air. Credit: RSPB

Swifts spend their whole life in the air - feeding, drinking, mating and sleeping on the wing.

The only time they land, is to breed.

They're the fastest bird in level flight reaching speeds of 70 mph and can fly up to 10,000 feet high.  

Every year they travel between Africa and Europe.  Some will fly up to 1.6 million miles in their lifetime - the equivalent of flying to the moon and back 7 times. 

The swift population has more than halved in the last 25 years. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In Cambridge, one man has dedicated his retirement to creating thousands of swift nest boxes.

John Stimpson has made 27,000 swift nest boxes. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Communities want to encourage the next generation to take care of the birds.

At Farlingaye High School they've installed several boxes and students are already learning some key swift facts.

Locals say helping these birds by installing a nestbox is both rewarding and entertaining.

With more people joining the fight to save the swifts, there's hope they will once again grace our region's skies in their hundreds.

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