Swifts are classic urban birds. Often seen skimming over the rooftops of houses in Stoneybatter, giving their characteristic screeching call. They’re phenomenal birds. Young Swifts, once they leave their nest, will fly non-stop over 10,000km to South Africa. Incredibly, they will not touch the ground after leaving the nest until they return to Ireland nine months later. They even sleep while flying.
Sadly these birds are declining in numbers dramatically. They nest in holes in buildings, and modern construction methods and demolition of older buildings have reduced the number of suitable nesting areas.
In Grangegorman, the TU Dublin Green Campus Committee working to provide new nest spots through the provision of nest boxes. On mornings and evenings in the summer, if you walk through Grangegorman, you will hear a distinctive screeching sound. These are recordings played to attract young swifts to the nest boxes.
The boxes have been fitted with cameras, so we can monitor if birds are successfully rearing chicks.
So far, no Swifts have taken up residence, but things are looking more positive. Last summer, as you can see from brief video below, many young Swifts were checking out potential nest spots around the campus.
These immature birds are called “bangers” as they explore nest sites by banging off the fascia boards to see if other swifts are occupying the sites. Swifts arrive in Ireland in mid-May, so hopefully we’ll know by late June if they take up residence in the nest boxes.
Similar efforts are taking place locally in Phibsborough and Drumcondra, so hopefully the sound of these classic Dublin birds will become more common again.
Dr Brian Gormley
Head of Campus Life