The colony of swifts that nests in the Museum has been the subject of a research study since May 1948. It is one of the longest continuous studies of a single bird species in the world, and has contributed much to our knowledge of the swift.
What is happening this year?
This year, the first swifts were spotted around the Museum tower on Monday 7 May. Details of nesting pairs and their chicks will be updated week by week through the summer months.
- 7 May 2018
They are back! Today we have the first sighting, with six swifts 'patrolling' the tower this morning. The weather is very warm and sunny.
- 14 May 2018
There is lots of activity in and around the tower this morning: there are five pairs and three single adults sitting already. The nest box visible on the webcam is occupied, but the pair are guarding the entrance, so not always visible on the nest. The weather this past week has been sunny with some rain – very good for the swifts.
- 24 May 2018
This week the swifts are beginning to lay their eggs. The first egg was laid in the webcam nest on Monday, and a second one was laid this morning.
- 28 May 2018
Today we moved the camera to a new nest that provides a better picture. It has been a good week for the swifts: there are now 28 active nests, with a total of 23 eggs visible. When we inpected the nestboxes in the tower, there were 24 adults sitting.The weather continues to be warm and humid.
- 4th June 2018
There are a total of 27 active nests, with 16 eggs visible, and 4 pairs and 22 single adults sitting. We had some showers this past week, but the weather continues to be hot and humid.
- 11th June 2018
Thanks to a warm, humid week we now have 31 nests with eggs or young, plus two more possible nests, with a minimum of 14 young and 32 eggs. 34 adults are in the boxes, 4 are pairs.
- 18th June 2018
Today the weather is warm, cloudy and breezy. There are 31 active nests with 34 young visible and a further 14 eggs. There are also 8 adults sitting where it isn't possible to check for either eggs or young.
- 2nd July 2018
The hot and sunny weather has aided development of the young swifts, and we now have 43 healthy youngsters and 3 eggs. There are 34 active nests and the 11 young that were ringed today will fledge within the next 7-10 days. It appears to be another good breeding season due to the hot weather.
- 9th July 2018
Today there were 68 young and 27 adults in 36 active nests. There are still 5 nests where the adult may be on eggs or chicks but we are not sure. So far this is a very good year for our swifts.
- 16th July 2018
There are 35 active nests containing 70 young and 15 adults sitting tight in the nestboxes. Three young have fledged, so we have moved the camera to a nestbox where there are younger birds. Three chicks should be here for 3 more weeks. The prolonged hot and sunny weather, with light winds, has been good for birds.
- 23rd July 2018
Today there were 51 young and 15 adults in 29 active nests. 19 young have fledged and there are many adults flying around the Museum's tower.
- 30th July 2018
The weather this past week has been hot, but windy and overcast, with some thundery showers. There are 13 nests still actve with 21 chicks and 2 adults. There are also 2 more eggs in the nest. We have a total of 75 chicks this year, with 54 young fledged so far - a very good year for our swifts.
- 6th August 2018
The weather has been hot and sunny. There are still 2 active nests with 3 youngsters, but also 2 abandoned eggs. 72 chicks fledged from 75 eggs, and 3 are almost ready to leave.
See the statistics for 2017 and 2016.
The average numbers of young swifts ringed each year over the last 50 years are:
- 1963–72: 36.7
- 1973–82: 70.4
- 1983–92: 100.0
- 1993–2002: 99.2
- 2003–12: 81.1