County project launched to protect bird globally under threat

A project is underway to protect a UK red listed bird species across Denbighshire.

Denbighshire County Council’s Biodiversity Team has launched a project to fly in extra summer housing support for Swifts.

The project backed by the Welsh Government through the Local Places for Nature grant, will look at creating new nesting sites across the county for Swifts this summer.

These birds are summer visitors to the UK, flying 3400 miles from a winter in Africa to breed in the UK. They pair for life returning to the same site each time.

Swifts traditionally like to nest in houses, churches, using small gaps in the roofs. However, as older buildings are renovated with roof gaps closed and new builds designed differently, the birds have fast disappeared.

The insects that swifts rely on to feed their young and refuel for their migrations are dwindling with the loss of habitat such as wildflower areas and freshwater. Denbighshire County Council is working to restore this loss through its Wildflower Meadows Project which has so far create nearly 70 acres of suitable habitats supporting the regeneration of insect and bird populations.

However, both issues have resulted in the swift being added at the highest conservation priority level on the red list in the 2021 UK Conservation resulting in urgent action needed.

To provide local support for swifts, the biodiversity team are working with schools, Denbighshire Housing, churches and office buildings, supplying them with nest boxes to put up on sites to give new and safer nesting sites for the birds.

For the first wave of funding, the team are hoping to install in the region of 170 boxes around Rhyl, Ruthin and Corwen. The initial focus is on bolstering existing swift colonies in these areas.

It is hoped that future funding will allow the area to be expanded, support other nesting species, and to create more habitat to feed the birds.

Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, and Biodiversity Champion, said: “Our Biodiversity Team works hard to tackle the climate and nature local emergency we declared in 2019. Swifts are threatened with large declines in their population and by working to provide them with new nesting areas across Denbighshire we can at the very least help to stabilise local populations. Residents can help by doing their bit to by putting up their own nest boxes or installing a Swift brick in a wall.”

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