The Swift Project - Swifts for Salisbury

Each summer, the skies over Salisbury are visited by one of our most vibrant and dramatic seasonal visitors - Swifts. Unfortunately these iconic birds are in dramatic decline. Between 1995-2015 UK breeding numbers decreased by 51%. 

23 day old Swift in the nest - Photo by Ulrich Tigges

23 day old Swift in the nest - Photo by Ulrich Tigges

Salisbury And Wilton Swifts (SAWS) is an outreach project co-ordinated by The Secret Garden which aims to help reverse this decline locally. 

Salisbury And Wilton Swifts (SAWS ) 

The Common Swift is no longer so common but it is a remarkable species spending most of its life on the wing. When it is not nesting it is in flight for the rest of the year – even at night. It is estimated that a Swift can fly more than a million miles in a lifetime.

We are losing our Swifts fast! 

Why? There are two obvious causes.

1. Insecticides. 

Most of the UK's arable land is sprayed with insecticides several times a year. Populations of some insects, which Swifts eat, are declining fast as a result of this. We can all help this directly by not using chemicals when gardening and also by buying organic food as much as we can. 

2. Loss of nest sites. 

Swifts nest primarily in buildings – under roofs or in walls. Due to major refurbishment of social housing, demolition of old buildings and new builds without any access to nesting birds we no longer offer a space for these birds to breed and numbers have declined in line with these trends. If you have nesting Swifts we urge you not to block the nest entrances. 

SAWS exists as a project with the following aims: 

1. To promote and champion the Swift as a beautiful and dynamic species that enriches our lives. 

2. To educate the general public about the life, behaviour and uniqueness of the Swift. 

3. To improve the availability of nesting sites in the Salisbury and Wilton area thus potentially helping reverse the trend of decline. 

In order to achieve these aims, we will: 

1. Give talks and Swift experiences to the public, schools, businesses etc. 

2. Help to preserve existing nesting sites. 

3. Encourage the provision of nesting sites in new-builds.

4. Give advice and support the provision of nest boxes on residential buildings, public buildings and businesses. 


We are currently working in partnership with the RSPB and Wiltshire Council to develop our plans. 


 If you would like to help with this project in any way, learn more about Swifts or donate funds to further our aims please contact Daniel Kronenberg by email:

If you know of a local Swift nesting site you can register it on the RSPB website and/or contact Daniel to show him the site. 

N.B. We are not equipped or trained in the rehabilitation of injured birds or young birds that may have fallen out of their nests. 

If you do find a fallen Swift, take a look at this page for advice and contact details of local experts in this field:

Picture by David Moreton

Picture by David Moreton