Keeping Biodiversity Local

Community Based Projects in the County

Projects by the people of Kerry

Making a Home for Swifts


Killorglin Tidy Towns lead the way with swift conservation


Working with Scoil Eoin, Balloonagh Primary School to create new homes for swifts


Glenbeigh Community makes new homes for swifts


The Swift is an amber listed bird of conservation concern in Ireland and across Europe. Swifts come to Ireland’s towns to breed, arriving in May and departing in August each year. Many people confuse swifts with our other summer visitor – the swallow.  However, swifts are different.  For one thing they never land!  So unlike swallows who spend days chatting on wires or building attractive mud nests, the swift stays in the air.  Swift are actually not really able to land having never evolved proper legs.  They spend nearly their entire life in the air.  They only stop to nest!  They are faithful to their nest sites returning to the same one for the duration of their life.

Traditionally swifts nest in buildings – in a tiny roof space, holes in walls or other traditional buildings.  The bird however is decline.  One reason is the loss of its nesting sites as modern building techniques excludes the birds.  In Ireland the swift is a very common inhabitant of many of our towns and villages.  It is a predominately urban bird – its a townie!  In Kerry Tralee, Killorglin, Listowel, Killarney, Castleisland and Glenbeigh have populations of swifts.  Many community groups have and are continuing to help protect the bird by providing nest sites.  In particular, Killorglin Tidy Towns initiated a swift nesting programme that goes from strength to strength.  Scroll down below to find out more about what the people of Kerry are doing to protect our swift visitors!!!  A special thanks to Lynda Huxley of Swift Conservation Ireland who has provided ongoing advice to us.

Killorglin leading the way in the conservation of swifts

Killorglin Tidy Towns initiated a swift conservation project a number of years ago working closely with Swift Conservation Ireland.  The group have been instrumental in getting other projects up and running in Kerry.  Killorglin now has several nest boxes in place waiting for swifts to take up residence.  Boxes were installed on Library Place in the town centre.  Several other local businesses were happy to get involved.  These boxes go unnoticed by the general public as, unlike starlings or pigeons, swifts do not make a mess.  They keep a very neat nest!   In 2017 Killorglin Tidy Towns were hopeful that swifts had moved into boxes close to the town centre.  The site will be surveyed again in 2018 to see if swifts have nested.  Swifts are faithful to their nest sites – they return to the same site year after year.   Its one of the reasons why swifts are in decline.  If their nest site is lost, they will continue to return to the site regardless.  That means they never get to raise a family year after year.  This impacts population numbers over time.

Swifts going to school in Tralee?

In 2017 the Biodiversity Office of Kerry County Council, the Kerry Branch of the IWT and Swift Conservation Ireland worked with Scoil Eoin, Primary School in Balloonagh, Tralee on a swift project.  With support from Kerry County Council’s Community Support Fund, the groups got together and over a weekend installed 9 nest boxes on the water tower in the school grounds.  The school is an existing nest site for at least 6 pairs of swifts.  They arrive back to the school every April.  We are hopeful that swifts will make the new boxes their home.  To capture the nesting of the birds and the rearing of their chicks we installed two tiny cameras.  The school is now keeping a watch eye on the nest sites in the hope the birds will arrive and move into their new homes this spring!  We will keep you posted.

Glenbeigh Swifts

In 2017 Killorglin Tidy Towns ran a swift information day for Biodiversity Week in May.  Enthusiastic members from Glenbeigh were in attendance and decided to try a similar project in Glenbeigh village.  With the help of Lynda Huxley of Swift Conservation Ireland, the group found out they to had swifts that visited the village in the summer months!  Almost immediately the group decided to get nest boxes and a call system to see if they too could attract swifts to nest in the village.   With a little funding from the Biodiversity Office of Kerry County Council and the communities own resources the boxes are now up and ready for Spring 2018.  Congrats to Glenbeigh for helping to protect the swift in their village.