It's the Year of the Swift in Navan

Almost 60 nests in town need to be protected

Navan is home to almost 60 swift nests, and with BirdWatch Ireland reporting a 40 per cent drop in the number of colonies of the bird nationwide since 2008, local conservation initiative Wild About Navan is asking locals to champion this amazing little bird and help make 2021 the 'Year of the Swift'.

Swifts are townies, nesting in buildings where small gaps allow them into roof spaces or cavities in masonry. Flying low and fast, they scream loudly - “srriiii!” - as they swoop into their hidden nests. Swifts form lifelong partnerships and return in May each year from Africa to reunite with their mate and return to the same nest, their home, to rear their chicks. .

“Swifts are zero waste birds and love to recycle," says Sinéad Garry of Wild About Navan. "Swifts eat their chicks droppings! As they spend most of their time out and about each day, they have super clean nest sites and make for the perfect house guest”.

When not nesting, swifts spend their time in the air. With no 5km restrictions to stick to, the birds fly about 800km a day. That adds up to about 3.2 million kilometres in their lifetime, or four journeys to the moon and back! Such is their mastery of the air, swifts eat, drink, preen, sleep and even mate while flying. They have even been recorded flying nonstop for ten months without landing.When visiting Ireland each summer the average swift pair consumes over half a million small flying insects swifts have few predators and are one of the longest living birds on the planet, living up to the age of 21.

An ancient bird fossil in Germany has revealed that swifts lived as far back as 49 million years ago. Unfortunately, the Irish swift population is declining due to a lack of suitable cavities in modern buildings, because of roof repairs and building renovations, and impacts from climate change and falling numbers of invertebrate food. The bird is currently amber-listed, meaning it is of conservation concern in Ireland and across Europe. According to the most recent research carried out by BirdWatch Ireland, there are 58 known swift nest sites in Navan town.The good news is that local group Wild About Navan is keen to protect these nests and their occupants into the future.

Growing out of the Love Navan group, Wild About Navan is an urban nature conservation initiative that was originally set up to facilitate a biodiversity survey of Navan.

#WildAboutSwifts is one of the first actions to be implemented by the group from the Biodiversity Action Plan developed together with ecologist Simon Barron. To find out how you can get involved and become a champion for the Swift, and indeed all things wild in Navan, join Wild About Navan on Instagram and Facebook or email them at WildAboutNavan@gmail.com

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