Swift screaming party

Bristol Swifts

The aim of Bristol Swifts is to provide practical advice about swift conservation. Swift numbers have been steadily declining in Bristol for over 25 years and unless we do something now to reverse this trend we could lose them forever. One of the main reasons for this decline is the loss of suitable nest sites. The Bristol Swifts website is designed primarily to aid local residents who are concerned about swifts and want to do something to help. By discovering exactly where they are nesting in the city, more can be done to protect them in the future.

My name is Mark Glanville and I live in Bristol. I have been interested in wildlife in general and birds in particular all my life. My interest in swifts began in May 2005. I’ve been learning about them ever since and attended the International Swift Conference in April 2014. I am the Bristol & Avon contact for Swift Conservation and have advised many local residents on suitable nest box sites, as well as being involved in larger projects.

My wife Jane shares my interest and has taken most of the photos and videos and created this website. We also have a website with photographs and videos of wildlife and wildlife-friendly plants taken in our Bristol Garden.


Us – Swifts over our house – Watching swifts from our garden

Swifts (apus apus) are the black, sickle-winged birds that characteristically fly at high speed around our buildings during the summer. They are often confused with swallows and house martins – see link to RSPB swift identification website for details. Swift numbers are in decline and the British Trust for Ornithology estimates that since 1995 their numbers have fallen across the UK by 38% putting them on the Amber List for bird species causing concern.

Although swifts are long distance migrants wintering each year in Africa, the reason their numbers are falling lies much closer to home. Swifts prefer to nest in colonies in old buildings, walls and bridges. Many colonies have existed for tens and in some cases hundreds of years. Conservationists widely agree that large urban regeneration schemes, as well as individual household refurbishments over the last 20 years in cities like Bristol, has been the main reason swift numbers have declined so dramatically. The refurbishment of many old buildings have unfortunately resulted in the loss of hundreds of traditional nesting sites. The simple fact is that new and modernised buildings offer little opportunity for swifts to nest.

There are a number of excellent websites including Swift Conservation and Action for Swifts with detailed information for the individual, as well as action plans specifically designed for councils and developers. This website is primarily for Bristol residents, although most of the information applies countrywide.

Bristol Swifts along with our partners from the RSPB, Avon Wildlife Trust, Bristol Naturalists’ Society, Bristol Zoo and Bristol City Council have set up the Bristol Swift Conservation Group, to help protect swifts in Bristol. If you would like to find out more see Local Swift Projects and if you would like to join the group please email via the contact page.

Little is known about the exact location of swift nests throughout Bristol, so establishing their location is key in protecting them in the future. Steps such as deferring maintenance work whilst swifts are nesting and not filling in every nook and cranny in roofs can make a huge difference.

Please contact us if you know where swifts are nesting in Bristol and take part in the Bristol Swift Survey 2016.

Copyright © 2016 Mark Glanville. All Rights Reserved.