New summer homes for Kirrie’s winged visitors

Tayside Swifts are offering nest boxes to replace lost swift breeding sites in Kirriemuir.
Tayside Swifts are offering nest boxes to replace lost swift breeding sites in Kirriemuir.

A continuing project to encourage the number of swifts in Kirriemuir has provided new homes for the seasonal visitors with the installation of 15 nest boxes.

The new boxes have been provided by the Kirriemuir Swift Conservation Project in time for the birds’ annual visit, which usually begins in May and lasts for three months.

In a bid to halt the decline of swift numbers in the area Tayside Swifts, with funding from the Angus Environmental Trust, provided two nestboxes at Linden Care Home where residents will record the birds’ movements during their residency in town.

Three were also installed on the north side of the Old Church B&B.

Madeana Laing, Lisden manager, said: “The addition of the swift boxes has caused some excitement in the home with some of our residents who are looking forward to spotting them. This is also a great start to our Balhousie in Bloom in bloom project for the garden.”

Swifts usually arrive in Scotland in May from their wintering grounds in Africa and stay until August. They are a familiar sight in towns and villages during summing evenings when they gather in groups to feed in flight as they speed around the buildings where they nest.

At twilight they ascend to sleep on the wing and they also eat and mate on the wing, never perching on wires like swallows or house martins; the only time they land is when they are raising their chicks.

Originally a tree-nesting species, swifts now depend almost entirely on buildings for nest sites using gaps in stonework, behind down-pipes or under the guttering.

They are faithful to one nest site and return year after year. Unlike swallows and house martins, swift nests have no external structure and consist of little more than a few feathers and straw glued together with saliva, with no damage to property.

Numbers of this once extremely common summer bird are falling as nests are being lost due to renovation and demolition of traditional breeding sites while new buildings deny access to swifts.

The birds have also been affected by climate change and a combination of these factors has led to a 60 per cent decline in Scotland’s swift population alone in the last 20 years.

A guided walk on will be held in Kirriemuir on Friday, July 1 at 8.30pm.

Daniele Muir from Tayside Swifts will outline birds’ unique ecology, explain what has been achieved in the area and what everyone can do to help.

Nestboxes for properties in Kirriemuir are available via, by e-mailing dmuir@taysideswifts or calling 07984 975095.